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Volume 3, Number 2, Spring 2007 


Melissa Jay Craig's That's Life, 2005 

The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 
Table of Contents 


Disciplining a Craft by Clifton Meador 
Teaching Book Culture by N. Bradley Christie 
The Book Art of Melissa Jay Craig by Jen Thomas 

Solving the Production Puzzle: Jigs and Other Tips for Hand Binding Books in Multiples 
by Priscilla Spitler, Hands On Bookbinding 

Beautiful Books Digitally by Jamie Runnells 

One Book, Many Interpretations: The Making of the Exhibition by Lesa Dowd 

A Review of the Guild of Book Workers 1 00th Anniversary Exhibition and Exhibition 
Catalog by Craig Jensen 

No Longer Innocent: Book Art In America, 1960-1980, a review by Melissa Jay Craig 
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Editorial Board: 

Publisher & Editor/ Reviewer: 

Peter D. Verheyen: Bookbinder & Conservator / Special 
Collections Preservation & Digital Access Librarian, Syracuse 
University Library, Syracuse, NY. 

Editors / Reviewers: 

Pamela Barrios: Conservator, Br igham Young University, 
Oren, UT. 

Donia Conn: Head of Conservation, Northwestern 
University Library, Evans ton, IL. 

Karen Hanmer: Book Artist, Chicago, II. 

Chela Metzger: Instructor, Kilgarlin Center for the 
Preservation of the Cultural Record, School of information, 
University of Texas at Austin. 

Don Rash: Fine and edition binder, Plains, PA. 

Full information on the Bonefolder, subscribing, 
contributing articles, and advertising, can be found at: 

<http: / /> 

To contact the editors, write to: 


The masthead design is by Don Rash 

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. 
The Book Arts Web /© 2004 
The Bonefolder (online) ISSN 1555-6565 


Volume 3, Number 2, Spring 2007 

The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 

Disciplining a Craft 

By Clifton Meador 

From a talk originally delivered at the November 2006 
Pyramid Atlantic Book Arts Conference 

There is more interest in book arts now than ever before : 
dozens of colleges and art schools offer classes in book arts, 
and centers of book art have been created in nearly every large 
city in America. Opportunities for education in the book arts 
abound, and it seems as though something significant is changing 
in the way people talk about the book arts. A discipline is 
evolving, a conceptual framework for thinking about making 
books is emerging. 

How are we building a discipline in book arts? 

What does it mean for book arts to be a discipline? 

It is not obvious what the term "book arts" means: it seems to 
describe crafts, but it is not self-evident which crafts. In order 
to understand what the term means, it seems reasonable to start 
by looking at where the book arts are transmitted, where people 
form their ideas about what they are doing as they are learning 
how to do it. There are two main arenas for the transmission of 
the book arts in America: one is the informal world of workshop 
instruction, usually (but not always) at nonprofit centers for 
book arts, and the other is formal academic study at a college, 
art school, or university. There have been book arts classes in 
the university much longer than there have been workshops that 
teach classes in the book arts. Porter Garnett's Laboratory Press 
at Carnegie Mellon was founded in 1923, for example. There 
are many other examples; for instance, 10 of the 12 residential 
colleges at Yale had letterpress shops for student use and Scripps 
college press has been around since the 1940s. While there have 
always been printers and handbinders teaching their crafts, 
the founding of the Center for Book Arts in New York in 1 974 
marks the beginning of the contemporary period of workshop - 
based book arts instruction. 

Since institutions are the places that support and create 
disciplines, let's examine the institutions that teach book arts to 
better understand what people mean by the term "book arts." 
The two main arenas are quite different in their approaches 
to instruction: centers of book art have an interest in bringing 
in the greatest number of people to support their operations 
and therefore develop courses that are clear and attractive to 
a large number of people. Academic institutions do not have 
the same pressure to expand and develop audience and are 
subject to entirely different forces that shape programming. We 
might expect academic institutions to frame book arts quite 

First I will examine workshop instruction, and then academic 

For this examination, I picked three places that are from 
geographically different areas of the country. I will look at 
their workshop offerings from fall of 2006, by title and course 
description. The purpose of this examination is to understand 
what most people mean when they use the term "book arts" and 
to understand the scope of activity. 

The Center for Book Arts in New York was the first center 
of its kind and it is, without a doubt, one of the field- defining 
institutions. They teach hundreds of workshops a year and 
offer multiple levels and sections of workshops in letterpress 
printing, binding, paper decoration, printmaking, conservation, 
calligraphy, and workshops that deal in artists' book making. 
For the fall 2006 workshop schedule, they listed 56 different 
sections of binding classes, from bookbinding I to boxmaking 
along with classes dedicated to specific structures, like long- 
stitch binding classes, Coptic binding, and leather bound 
books. They offered 30 sections of printing classes, 22 of which 
were dedicated to letterpress and eight of which covered 
printmaking topics, like Japanese wood block printing. They 
taught six sections of paper decorating classes (suminagashi and 
marbling), six sections of calligraphy classes (copperplate script 
to handwriting for books) , five sections of conservation classes 
(including a master class with Gary Frost), and seven classes that 
are hard to categorize, like Comic Book Weekend, Editioning 
Mail Art, or Make a Limited Edition Book in a Week, which was 
a printing class combined with binding. 

The Minnesota Center for Book Arts is another large center 
for instruction in the book arts, which also provides studio space 
for artists, publishes a book every year and creates exhibition 
programming. During fall 2006 they taught eleven sections 
of binding classes, seven sections of letterpress classes, two 
printmaking classes, three sections of paper decorating classes, 
one papermaking class, a Japanese calligraphy class, and a book 
art sampler (three Wednesdays: an introduction to papermaking, 
printing, and binding) . One of the interesting threads in the 
MCBA's fall schedule was a group of three classes dedicated to 
making jewelry from left-over bookbinding scraps. MCBA also 
offers classes designed particularly for teachers, usually held 
in the summer, which cover binding techniques for teachers, 
as well as classes on topics designed to help teachers introduce 
book arts into the classroom. MCBA clearly has primary and 
secondary education as part of its mission; they also regularly 
offer classes for families and even preschool children in book 
arts topics. 

The San Francisco Center for the Book is a decade-old vibrant 
institution in the world of workshop instruction, teaching an 
ambitious workshop program and creating interesting exhibition 

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The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 


programming. During fall 2006 they offered 15 classes in 
printing, all with a letterpress emphasis, 1 1 classes in binding 
(one of which was a class in how to teach book arts to 
children) and another 10 classes in a category the center calls 
"related arts": they range from a paste-paper class to a class in 
writing for artists' books. The SFCB characterizes this third 
group of classes as the "creative heart of bookmaking, where 
concept, materials, form and content come together." 

There are many other centers of book art instruction all 
over the country. Pyramid Atlantic is one of the few centers 
that offers classes in any depth in papermaking. The Columbia 
College Center for Book and Paper Arts, which is the host 
institution for the graduate program where I teach, also offers 
workshops in printing, binding, and papermaking. There are 
so many other great places: Book Works in beautiful Asheville 
North Carolina, Garage Annex School, and Penland, are 
only a few. They all offer a range of classes, generally, though 
not always, with a technical orientation. All of the centers 
offer some non-technique-oriented instruction. The SFCB, 
for example, outlines a programmatic ambition to support 
artistic activity through the "related arts" series of workshops. 
But the focus in these centers, at least as defined by how much 
time is spent doing what, is on teaching craft. 

Based on this not-very-rigorous survey of centers of book 
art instruction, I conclude that in the fall of 2006, at places 
that use the words "book arts" as part of the definition of what 
they do, binding is at the heart of book arts, closely followed 
by letterpress printing, based on numbers of classes. There 
seems to be a constellation of other crafts — paper decoration, 
papermaking, calligraphy, and printmaking — that are taught 
in the context of the book arts, but at a very low frequency. 
It seems important to point out that while the world of 
papermaking has an intimate relationship with the book arts, 
papermaking is a medium on its own terms. Papermaking 
supports other activities (sculpture, for example) and crosses 
into many other activities, but is not offered at book art 
centers with anywhere near the same frequency as binding 
or letterpress classes. Of the three centers we examined 
in detail, none of them offers extensive programming in 
papermaking. There are places that offer many classes in 
papermaking, but they tend to be specialized studios. The 
classes that all of these institutions offer are a carefully 
considered blend of what they can do, given the facilities they 
have, and what they think their communities will choose to 
support. It is important to reiterate that centers that teach 
workshops must offer classes that will fill and run: it is 
pointless to offer a seminar in narrative book theory if nobody 
will take it. When we talk about book arts, it is important to 
try to understand what those words mean to the people who 
take these workshops. This is clear: to a lot of people, "book 
arts" means the crafts of hand binding and letterpress printing. 

The academic world of book arts is larger than you might 
expect. In nearly every art department there is some kind 
of activity involving books, usually as part of a printmaking 
program. Typically (or perhaps not untypically) , artists' 
books are mentioned in an upper-level printmaking studio 
as a potential outcome of printmaking. There are not very 
many dedicated departments of book arts, but there are a 
surprising number of colleges that offer one, two or more 
courses in the book arts. I collected course descriptions 
from 23 colleges that teach more than one class in book 
arts, and I found a very different approach to teaching book 
arts from the way workshop approach the field. Instead of 
classes with techniques as their subjects, making it easy to 
count which crafts are taught as book arts, most classes at 
schools have a conceptual framing, a title that talks about 
the ideas in making books, rather than techniques in how to 
make books. This is indicative of something important, but 
for now let's try to use this information to understand what 
is included in the category "book arts." It seems reasonable 
to look at undergraduate introductory classes as the place in 
the academy where the field of activity would be delimited. 
In other words, intro classes ought to offer a definition of 
the book arts as a part of the activity of teaching students to 
make books. So, here are some phrases culled from course 
descriptions from introductory experiences in the book arts 
at nine schools, picked almost at random. Frequently, the 
first class (where there is more than one class) is a class called 
artists' books. 

From Mills College 

This is one of the few schools with a stand-alone 
undergraduate book arts focus. They offer a group of at least 
15 classes in the book arts, a concentration in some depth: 

Introduction to Book Arts 

. . .an introduction to the techniques, structures, tools, 
materials and processes used in creating artists' books. 
Students will explore a broad range of studio practice, 
including letterpress printing, hand and computer typography, 
simple book structures, and basic relief printmaking as they 
examine the relationship of verbal, visual, and structural 
content in books. 

From California College of the Arts: 


In this class, we will concentrate on recognizing the book 
within your own work and making it real in your chosen 
media. Basic book structures and letterpress printing 
from handset type will be introduced and more advanced 
instruction will be tailored to individual needs. 

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The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 

From the School of the Art Institute of Chicago: 

Artists ' Books 

In this multi-level course we investigate the use of books 
in the context of studio practice. Bindings, such as pamphlet, 
side stitch, accordion, and codex forms and variations are 
introduced and practiced. Strategies for utilizing material and 
form in relation to content, and for articulating pagination, 
such as pacing, juxtaposition, and simultaneity, are addressed 
in individual projects. 

From Wells College 

Wells College, another of the few schools with a dedicated 
undergraduate book arts department, offers two introductory 

Hand Bookbinding I 

This course introduces students to traditional bookbinding 
techniques by familiarizing them with the tools, materials 
and techniques of the craft. Students are expected to produce 
a set of book models that are clean, structurally sound, and 
consistent with the class demonstration. 

Letterpress: Introduction to Typography 

Demonstrations, readings, and assignments on the 
mechanics of handsetting and printing from metal type. 
Traditional and artistically innovative approaches to using this 
medium will be covered. Each student will create her or his 
own individual projects: postcards, broadsides, book, etc. 

From Wellesley College: 

Book Arts Studio 

In an interactive setting, students will gain hands-on 
experience in bookmaking, with an emphasis on the creative 
possibilities of ancient craft and contemporary art. In the 
Library's Book Arts Lab, students will learn to set type by 
hand and print on hand presses. Students will create limited 
edition broadsides and artists' books. 

From the San Francisco Art Institute: 

Artists' Books — Structures & Ideas 

This class uses the form of the book as a source of 
inspiration and as a medium for expression, building upon 
many traditional bindings and newly created structures. 
Students will acquire technical skills and explore different 
media as they create a series of contemporary artists' books. 
For each book, emphasis will be placed on the interactions 
between words and images and on using materials and a 

binding that support the theme or meaning. Conceptual 
approaches, sequence, design, editioning, and experimental 
books will be discussed. 

From the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, 

Artist's Books: An Introduction 

An in-depth introduction to one-of-a-kind artists' books. 
This course is for artists of any discipline who want to work 
in the book format. Students learn many book structures, 
including portfolios pamphlets, multi- signature, concertinas, 
Coptic and clamshell boxes. We also explore a variety of 
image and text-making techniques. During open studio time 
students develop ideas and complete 'a book a week,' which 
may include edible books, altered books, books made of 
natural materials, visual books or books that tell stories. 

From Middle Tennessee State University: 

Book Arts 

The Book Arts Program offers two classes in book arts 
(ART 3550 & ART 4110) and two classes in letterpress 
printing (ART 3770 & ART 4770). In Book Arts I and II 
students learn various book binding and book designing 
techniques and skills. The concept of the artist's book is 
explored and students are encouraged to work with both 
traditional and non- traditional book forms and materials. In 
Letterpress I students learn the basics of letterpress printing 
using raised metal type to form text and relief printing 
processes to create images 

From Smith College: 

The Book: Theory and Practice I 

Investigates (1) the structure and history of the Latin 
alphabet, augmenting those studies with an emphasis on the 
practice of calligraphy, (2) a study of typography that includes 
the setting of type by hand and learning the rudiments of 
printing type, and (3) the study of digital typography. 

Of these nine schools offering introductory experiences in 
book arts, eight schools promote the technique of binding as 
central to the practice, six of the nine schools use letterpress 
as the method of choice for creating text, six of the nine list 
artists' books either as the title of the class or as a potential 
outcome for the class. It is really fascinating to note that seven 
of the nine approaches frame book making as an expressive 
or artistic form and talk about conceptual issues in making 
books. The relationship of form to content seems to be at 
the heart of much of this activity; at these schools, the focus 
is on the book as a place to make art. Wells College uses 

Volume 3, Number 2, Spring 2007 

The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 

the terms "artistically innovative approaches" to letterpress 
printing, signaling an intention to use letterpress as a mode 
of art making. Smith College alone does not use any language 
explicitly talking about art or expression, but Smith also 
teaches a class called The Artist's Book in the 20th Century, 
so The Book: Theory and Practice (just look at the name!) is 
clearly taught in a historicized and theory-rich environment. 

It is hard when reading these course descriptions not to 
conclude that book arts means something different in the 
academy than it does in the workshop world. The methods 
used in book arts seem to be the same in both worlds. Hand 
binding as a way to create book structures is a common 
technique in almost all introductory experiences in book 
arts closely followed by letterpress printing as a way of 
generating the text and images that are also at the heart 
of this activity. Seen from a purely technical standpoint, 
workshop instruction and academic instruction seem to 
be about the same activities. But the activities are framed 
differently: "recognizing the book within your own work" 
(from CCA), and "investigate the use of books in the context 
of studio practice" (from SAIC) sound very different from 
"course will familiarize students with the basic materials, 
techniques, and history of bookbinding, or "learn the basics 
of hand typesetting and letterpress printing. We will cover 
the essentials of good presswork, including inking, imposition 
and impression" (from the CBA).The difference, of course, 
is the context for these learning experiences. The context 
for the academic instruction of the book arts is an academic 
department, the intellectual nucleus of the academy. 

It seems safe to conclude, based on this not- very-rigorous 
methodology, that the term "book arts" in the studio art 
programs (where most of the classes in book arts are taught), 
refers to creative, expressive activity that is part of a studio 
practice in art, which involves book structures (binding), 
image and text (probably made by printing letterpress) , 
mostly in the service of making artists' books. The Wells 
program and the University of Alabama program seem to 
operate from slightly different definitions: both of these 
programs seem to conceptually frame book arts in the 
same way as in the world of workshop instruction. On 
the University of Alabama MFA in book arts web site the 
program overview states, "The general goal for the M.F.A. 
program is to develop professional artisans (my italics) who 
are technically proficient in the book arts and cognizant of the 
historical background in which these various crafts evolved 
and of the professional environment in which our graduates 
will work," which is a very different sense of the book arts 
from the idea of "recognizing the book within your work." 
This does not mean that these programs do not value artistic 
expression: on the contrary, as I will show, they both seem 

to foreground it. In the world of workshop instruction, 
classes are almost always driven by technique, but in the 
world of academic instruction, these activities are framed by 
disciplinary thinking. 

What is this disciplinary thinking? 

"Discipline," in this academic usage, means a field of 
study. It seems like we use the word interchangeably with 
the word "profession," but it isn't the same thing at all. 
Some disciplines do have a direct professional practice, 
and some do not. Medicine, law, and architecture all have 
licensing requirements, and the results of study in any of 
these disciplines have concrete implications in the way one 
performs the work of a doctor, a lawyer, or an architect. 
These disciplines support professions in an obvious way. 
History, English, and a host of other disciplines mostly 
support the profession of professor. The central qualification 
for a professor is a terminal degree in, ahem, one of the 

Clearly, one needs a discipline to be a professor. 

Sometime in the nineteenth century, the idea of academic 
disciplines arose out of the increasing specialization of higher 
education: the classics curriculum of Greek and Latin — which 
had been the only curriculum in higher education outside 
medicine, theology, and law — was replaced by the need to 
educate people for increasingly complicated occupations. 
Right before the Civil War, land grant universities were 
created by Congress through a program of giving federal land 
to state legislatures with the charge to sell the land and use 
the proceeds to create institutions of higher education. These 
new institutions were given the charge to create universities 
"where the leading object shall be, without excluding other 
scientific and classical studies, and including military tactics, 
to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture 
and the mechanic arts, in such manner as the legislatures of 
the States may respectively prescribe, in order to promote 
the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes 
in the several pursuits and professions in life" (Morrill Act, 
signed into law in 1862 by Lincoln) . This financial incentive 
to create institutions of higher education with the express 
purpose of providing vocational education, created new 
kinds of academic divisions: departments dedicated to 
formulating curricula for professional practice of what had 
formerly been occupations learned through apprenticeships. 
This should sound familiar: when occupations turn into 
professions, especially in the context of higher education, 
a great deal of thinking about what constitutes necessary 
knowledge and identifying basic principles goes into forming 
a curriculum. The discussion revolves around knowledge 
and ways of knowing, rather than around ways of doing. It is 

Volume 3, Number 2, Spring 2007 

The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 

this kind of thinking that creates the idea of a discipline: the 
transmission of skills is now based on abstract knowledge, 
since the teaching happens in a context removed from the 
actual practice of those skills. Thinking about doing creates 
a new awareness of that practice, and the focus of this new 
discipline becomes thinking, not doing. A farmer turns into 
an agronomist, a blacksmith turns into an engineer, and in 
the case most interesting to us, a painter turns into an artist. 
During the twentieth century, studio fine art became a 
discipline in American universities.* 

So, in this context, an academic discipline is a branch of 
knowledge that is taught and researched at an institution of 
higher education. Markers for a discipline are an academic 
journal (peer-reviewed is considered most desirable), 
professional organizations, and discrete departments in 
academe, especially graduate programs in the field. The 
presence of all three of these cultural institutions certifies that 
there will be a developed body of thought about the endeavor, 
a conceptual framework for thinking about how and why 
practitioners adopt one way of doing things over another, and 
a philosophical framework for explaining the central issues of 
that occupation. 

So, to get back to book arts, let's look at studio fine art, one 
of the two major sites of book arts education. There can be 
no doubt: studio art is firmly a discipline in the academy now. 
Using the marker test, we can see the College Art Association 
as the umbrella professional organization for college art 
professors. It publishes two journals, both of which are 
peer-reviewed. There are at least 250 N AS AD -accredited 
undergraduate departments of art in America and something 
like a thousand colleges and universities that offer degrees 
with some concentration in art — out of perhaps 2,500 four- 
year public and private institutions in America. Clearly, studio 
art is firmly ensconced in the academy as a disciplinary kind of 

But the very idea of fine art as a discipline, i.e. , a branch 
of knowledge rather than a craft of making, still seems like 
an odd construction, a kind of unintended consequence of 
putting studio fine art instruction into the context of the 
American university. Centuries of artists learning their craft 
through apprenticeship, a kind of learning where the how 
and why of doing are transmitted simply by imitation, have 
been replaced by studio art courses, that on the one hand 
frequently don't teach young artists how to do anything at all, 
but on the other hand excel at investigating the cultural role 
of art, at teaching artists to think critically about what they 
do, and at positioning what they do within a larger context. 

My favorite undergraduate art professor (Dick Lebowitz, 
a photography professor at Rhode Island School of Design) 

came into my sophomore studio class, on the very first day 
in my major, and announced, "Technique is the only thing 
that can be taught, but I am not going to teach any technique 
in this class."We were all stunned, since what we wanted to 
know was how to create cool pictures, not to spend hours and 
hours looking at and talking about our work. But, in fact, all 
we did, for six hours every week, was look at our work and 
talk about it. 

This was not a waste of time, by the way. I learned how to 
think about art, discipline- style by talking about it incessantly 
and I believe it helped me make better art. 

And yet, there is still some kind of cognitive dissonance in 
the study of studio art as a discipline in the academy. Study 
can be as creative a practice as anything else, but there is a 
real difference between the mode of thinking in study and 
the mode of thinking in making art. Study is analytic, a 
taking apart, a dissection of an existing corpus of thought. 
Art making is synthetic, a putting together, the creation of a 
new corpus. This is too reductive, but in this overly- simplified 
dyad we can see the fundamental tension between art and 
the academy: the friction between doing and thinking. As 
a professor myself for nearly 1 5 years now, I am only too 
familiar with the problems untenured artist/ professors in 
universities and colleges have in explaining how what they do 
has rigor, or seriousness of purpose. Merely making things 
seems like too much fun to many serious members of the 

Or, as one of my colleagues in another, non-art, discipline 
once said, "Art school seems like having dessert all the 
time." Sometime in mid-twentieth century America, the 
MFA became the terminal degree for studio art and thus, 
through some special logic, equivalent to a doctorate. An 
MFA, according to the CAA, is supposed to be disciplinary 
certification of professional ability: in this way of thinking, 
a person with an MFA is a professional, university- 
trained artist. An MFA in book arts, that rare and worthy 
achievement, certifies that someone is a professional book 
artist, I suppose. 

So then why does that sound so odd? It is interesting 
to think about nondisciplinary approaches to any of the 
traditional professions: the power of certification is so 
powerful that phrases like "jailhouse lawyer," "shade tree 
architect," or "amateur surgeon" seem like a warning, like 
you would be crazy to trust those people with anything 
other than a damp paper bag. Contrast that with the term 
"outsider artist," and we begin to see some of the problems 
with art as a discipline. Outsider artist, more often than not, 
suggests someone with a fresh viewpoint, an authenticity of 
expression, that a university-trained artist clearly wouldn't 


Volume 3, Number 2, Spring 2007 

The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 


have. In fact, the term "university- trained artist" sounds like a 
negative value judgment: my own imagination paints a picture 
of the university- trained artist as someone comfortable with 
difficult literary theory, someone who makes work that would 
make an ordinary person feel alienated or uncomfortable, 
someone who would not be able to earn a living from the sale 
of their own work unless they succeeded in being certified by 
an unimpeachable authority like the Museum of Modern Art 
in New York City. Obviously (at least to my own imagination) 
the work of a university-trained artist would be difficult in 
some way, sexually or politically challenging, certainly not 
merely pleasant or life -affirming. And all that coming from 
someone who likes difficult art and spends his time training 
future MFAs! 

The notion of professionalism in the arts, particularly in the 
visual arts, is haunted by the persistent myth of the artist as a 
hero, the artist as a cultural outsider, the rebel who has special 
access to feelings and knowledge ordinary people cannot tap 
into. The idea that there could be a professionalization of a 
supernatural ability is patently absurd and is the source of 
the cognitive dissonance : if you have to be a weirdo to be an 
artist, then obviously training can't make you weird. 

Or can it? 

The problem is with the myth, though, not with teaching 
artists to think hard about what and how they do things. 
Moving book arts into the academy, shifting the emphasis 
from how to make things to asking why we make things 
the way we do, and questioning how they will be seen and 
used is a transformation that has already happened. And it 
has improved book arts : people are making better work as a 
direct result of this transformation. 

What characterizes this emerging discipline of book arts? 

When people receive their training, even in the supposedly 
simple case of learning a craft, it always includes so much 
more than just technical instruction. When we teach classes 
in letterpress printing, or hand binding, we are doing 
something much more than teaching people how to make 
things using commercially obsolete technology. An enormous 
range of values and assumptions is always transmitted in 
even the simplest technical instruction: values about what is 
appropriate to do or to use, what is proper or permitted in 
a particular mode of making. All these values, transmitted 
unconsciously or consciously through instruction, shape how 
we decide what to make and how we make it. In other words, 
teaching technique always includes a conceptual framework 
for activity. 

So, how are we conceptually framing these activities? 

Starting with the dumbest level: people make books in 
book art classes. Why do they make books? Here are some 
rationales : "They will be encouraged to use the book form to 
meet artistic goals" (Nova Scotia School of Art and Design); 
"Traditional and sculptural books provide exciting options 
for artistic expression." (MCAD); "Graduates leave with 
knowledge of the fluid integration of text, image, structure, 
materials and technique, able to use the book as a vehicle for 
personal expression." (OCAC). I think it is easy to see that 
the reason most schools offer classes in book arts is to include 
making books as a form of artistic expression. Most programs 
are teaching book arts in order to get people making books 
that are works of art. I think this means, gasp, they are really 
teaching artists' books. 

Well, that's not a very controversial conclusion, is it, 
when most of the intro classes are called Artists' Books? The 
controversy might arise if someone asserted that book arts are 
about the idea of traditional book crafts being used to make 
traditional books, with no idea of expression as a part of that 
project. This would be an exaggerated crystal goblet idea, 
where the maker's duty is to transparently reveal the words of 
an author to a reader, in a dignified and appropriate context. 
But none of the academic programs we examined are actually 
saying that: they are all in basic agreement that the purpose 
of the book arts is to encourage artistic expression. For 
example, the University of Alabama MFA program, arguably 
the most craft- oriented degree granting program, states, "We 
are interested in developing craft skills based on historical 
principles and techniques, and the artistic expression that 
follows," a clear declaration of interest in expression as the 
final result, the object of study. So, the discipline of book 
arts focuses on making books as an artistic activity. The term 
"book arts" includes artists' books as part of the discipline: a 
central part, especially when the instruction happens in art 
departments, but not the only outcome from activity in the 
book arts. The outcome from study in the book arts might 
thus be characterized as learning to make books as vehicles 
for artistic expression. 

When we teach people to make books that are expressive 
vehicles, how do we encourage this expression to be 
embodied in the object? "Students realize the potential of 
narrative, sequence, and pacing, together with the importance 
of combining word and image" (Purchase College's Art of the 
Book class); "Students explore the book as an art form that 
incorporates three-dimensional as well as two-dimensional 
structure, time and sequence, text and image." (University 
of the Arts MFA program description); "We go over simple 
bookbinding methods, including a session on paper mechanics 
(pop-up structures), but the emphasis will be on how the 

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format enhances the concept." (the School of the Museum of 
Fine Arts, Boston); and "Students will explore a broad range 
of studio practice, including letterpress printing, hand and 
computer typography, simple book structures, and basic relief 
printmaking as they examine the relationship of verbal, visual, 
and structural content in books," (Mills College). 

This points to one of the very central ideas of the discipline : 
that the book delivers a time-based experience created 
through interaction of the format (or structure) with text and 
imagery. A book articulates this time-based experience and 
projects a voice through use of a multitude of crafts and other 
disciplines: typography, book structures, image -generating 
media (which includes practically every artistic medium 
ever used), creative writing, papermaking, and, if you get 
right down to it, almost anything imaginable, including 
performance, video, and sculpture. This is starting to seem 
odd: This defines a discipline that seems at the very least 
intermedia and, at its most extreme, interdisciplinary. It also 
sounds strangely familiar: let's see: an activity that works with 
words and images to create communication, using a variety of 
media. . . 

There is a tremendous overlap between the academic 
teaching of graphic design and the academic teaching of 
book arts: typography, page design, book design, issues with 
communication and semiotics, narrative, investigation of 
how ideas are invested into objects: these are all examples of 
issues common to both activities. The biggest difference, as 
far as I can see, and it is a complex one, is the issue of creative 
authorship. In artists' books, at least, authorship is a central 
issue. In book arts, not so much. For example, we might 
all agree that the Arion Press Moby Dick is an impressive 
achievement, a beautiful slab of a book, a noteworthy 
achievement in book arts, but I don't think anybody wants 
to call it an artists' book. And I think we would agree that 
substantial creativity went into making Moby Dick, but is it a 
unique work of art? I don't think so. By the way, that doesn't 
take anything away from it. Not everything has to be a work 
of art. 

One of the things that always struck me, back when I taught 
graphic design, is how graphic design, unlike all the other 
areas in a traditional (whatever that means) art department, is 
not medium-based, but is a conceptual framework for activity. 
Basic graphic design is about form and communication, 
and it can be executed in a variety of media. Book arts, as 
a discipline, is also about form and communication. I am 
happy to see that some schools are creating centers where 
the issues common to book arts and graphic design are being 
explored by students. The Text and Image area of the School 
of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and The Center for 
Word, Text, and Image of the San Francisco Art Institute, are 

dramatic examples of this, but there are many places where 
letterpress shops are kept as typographic labs for design 
students. I hope that as the discipline of book arts becomes 
more consolidated, the connection to the practice of graphic 
design also strengthens: books arts could be the research and 
development zone for graphic design, and if more places like 
these interdisciplinary centers are created, it will enrich and 
expand the study of the book arts. 

Let me try a definition: Book arts is the study of making 
books as expressive artistic objects. This practice focuses 
on thinking about how books create meaning, how books 
function culturally, and how a book can be a unique 
experience in art. 

That is my simple version of the discipline of book arts, but 
I am left with a great many other questions: why do the book 
arts, as a name for a practice, make such a fetish of the hand 
made? If the conceptual focus of the discipline is on the way a 
book creates a time-based experience, wouldn't that allow any 
methodology for making? Why privilege obsolete methods? 

Why do we have such an emphasis on traditional techniques 
in book arts classes? 

Here is a really interesting statement from the wonderful 
and rigorous UC Santa Barbara program (from the college 
web site) : "Book arts reflects the understanding that as new 
technologies emerge, older technologies persist as art forms." 
Here is a quote from Inge Brugeman "The traditional and 
craft foundations give such a complex and important starting 
point for any contemporary artist book maker that I would 
hate to see us distance ourselves from them. I would like to 
see us continue to critically define the distinct areas that fall 
under the umbrella of artists' books (book art) and educate 
the larger art community to understand its different and 
unique facets." (a reply posted on the JAB Online website) 
I agree. One of the hallmarks of this discipline may be an 
understanding that the history of the craft traditions is 
important to understanding how meaning is created: in 
typography, for example, an understanding of the history of 
type is crucial to understanding how type creates a voice for 

It is the growth of book arts instruction within art 
departments that is driving the creation of a conceptually 
defined discipline. Departments that are separate from art 
departments are free to teach however they want, as long 
as they have the support of their administration. Book arts 
instruction that occurs within a larger department are subject 
to the same standards and criteria as any other instruction 
within that department: in our case, the teaching of the book 
arts, when it happens within a studio art department, must 

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fit in with all the other art teaching. The hallmark of teaching 
art as a discipline is thinking about craft activities in terms 
that stress the conceptual rather than the technical aspects of 
the activity: In other words, the why and what for of making, 
rather than the how. And that explains the difference between 
the way workshop -oriented book arts are taught and the way 
book arts are taught in the academy. 

So, finally, I want to be explicit here: I believe that the 
central practice in art is the making of things. Art is not 
philosophy, in fact it is a bad, sloppy place to do philosophy. 
Art making is always concerned with materiality is the 
service of expression. So, when I talk about a conceptual 
framework for teaching book arts, I am not trying to reject 
craft in anyway. Craft is a way to talk about how we interact 
with materiality, how we shape the things we use to embody 
whatever it is we are trying to express. People like to make 
things, and why not? The making of things is a delightful, 
playful, joyful part of being human. 

The pleasure of making something, of making something 
well, is frequently a complete experience for some people. I 
do not want to take that joy away from anybody. But I think 
it is a problem when I assume that the joy I had in making 
something, the pleasure I took in creating a well-made object, 
should be enough for all the viewers of my work. It is not. 
There has to be some other aspect to a work to make it 
engage an audience, some kind of exchange of value to make 
it a worthwhile experience. I love to look at beautiful things, 
but when I read a great book, it isn't the type that takes me 

The movement of studio art instruction into the 
academy has been accompanied by a shift in teaching 
priorities. A discipline is a conceptual framework, a way 
of framing activity, and art as taught in the academy has 
become about ideas. The model of what an artist does has 
shifted from the talented craftsperson, someone skilled at 
creating representation or form, to the notion that an artist 
manipulates ideas by creating form, and that the ideas are the 
juice behind the form. Book arts are becoming another part 
of the world of studio art, and young artists are making books 
as just another way to make art. 

* / am heavily in debt to Howard Singerman s 
excellent book Art Subjects: Making Artists in 
the American University for my understanding 
of the development of art departments and the 
professionalization of art in the academy I urge you, 
if you are interested in this at all, to read his lucid 
and interesting book. 

Clifton Meador is a photographer, writer, and designer 
who makes books. His recent books explore history and 
place through narrative and experimental design. He is 
the director of the Interdisciplinary Arts MFA in Book & 
Paper, at Columbia College Chicago. 

Before coming to Columbia College Chicago in 2005, 
he was a professor of design at the State University 
of NewYork at New Paltz, where he co-founded an 
interdisciplinary design-photography MFA program, the 
Visual Research Laboratory. He has worked at several 
artists' book production facilities and was the director 
of Nexus Press 1984-88. He has been the recipient of 
several grants and fellowships, most notably as a two- 
time recipient ofNYFA fellowships (1995 and 1999), 
and as a 2003 Fulbright Scholar to the Republic of 
Georgia. His work is in many major collections of book 
art, including the Museum of Modern Art in NewYork, 
the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the 
Yale Art of the Book collection. Mr. Meador holds an 
M.F.A. from the State University of NewYork, Purchase 
in the Art of the Book, and a B.F.A. from Rhode Island 
School of Design in Photography. He can be reached at 

Volume 3, Number 2, Spring 2007 

The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 

Teaching Book Culture 

By N. Bradley Christie 

". . . I have swam through libraries 

Melville, Moby-Dick" 

Herman Melville, we know, was a voracious reader who 
maintained a large personal library. So it should come as 
no surprise that when he came to classify whales in the 
"Cetology" chapter (32) of Moby-Dick, he did so in book 
terms. In fact, Melville's catalog of whales might well be used 
to introduce the unfamiliar to the basics of sizing books and 
their pages from folio to duodecimo, etc. Students consulting 
the Norton Critical Edition of Moby-Dick will find in the 
footnotes to Chapter 32 just that, a mini-lesson on textual 
bibliography. Melville himself even explained in a note why 
the second Book of whales is denominated Octavo instead 
of Quarto: "Because, while the whales of this order, though 
smaller than those of the former order, nevertheless retain a 
proportionate likeness to them in figure, yet the bookbinder's 
Quarto volume in its diminished form does not preserve the 
shape of the Folio volume, but the Octavo does" (Melville, 
Moby -Dick, 121, n. 7). 

The Norton Critical Moby-Dick is generally regarded 
as definitive and its apparatus unparalleled. Yet in Book II 
(Octavo), Chapter III (Narwhale) of the "Cetology" chapter, 
a curious note appears. The narrator, Ishmael, is describing 
the narwhale 's "peculiar horn," really just an extended tusk, 
similar to the blade of a swordfish, marlin, or bill-fish. 
Ishmael notes that no one knows for certain the purpose of 
the narwhale 's horn: " — however that may be," he muses, 
"it would certainly be very convenient to him for a folder 
in reading pamphlets" (Melville, 122). The word "folder" of 
course occasions the footnote, which reads, "Usually the cover 
used when pamphlets are loose leaved, not stitched; here, a 
page turner" (Melville, 122, n. 6). A page turner? I think 
not. I think that Melville was just wily and witty enough to 
mean here a bone folder, perhaps the signature tool of the 
book artisan. 

For one thing, bone folders come in all shapes and sizes 
to serve all sorts of purposes. Like many prized hand tools, 
bone folders tend to be modified with care to meet the 
exacting preferences of their artisan owners. That is, they 
can be unique, rather like the curious looking narwhale. For 

centuries bone folders were made by hand, mostly from cattle 
or deer shanks; today many are manufactured from a range of 
polymers and synthetics, including Teflon. But in Melville's 
day of course many were made of whalebone or baleen, the 
bone-like material lining the mouths of certain lesser whales 
and used for making corset stays, rulers — and folders, among 
other items. 1 

As a bibliophile and mariner, Melville would have known 
that, and he would have delighted in the bookman's inside 
jest, depicting in his great book the lowly narwhale as 
something of a book fancier himself. In a course on American 
Romanticism last spring (2006), only one student had any 
idea what I was talking about when I pointed out this curiosity 
in Moby-Dick. She was the only one in that class who had 
also taken the Winter Term course I teach on book arts. After 
I asked her about footnote six on page 122 and jogged her 
memory about tools of the book maker's trade, we chuckled 
together as insiders may. The rest of this article describes why 
that student and I could enjoy together Melville's little joke, 
and perhaps why teaching book culture remains so important. 

I teach this course, which I call simply The Book, in a 
three-and-a-half-week Winter Term scheduled between two 
traditional college semesters. The Winter Term consists of 
only eighteen class days, during which most classes meet 
for at least two and a half hours. The idea(l) is to combine 
"traditional and innovative approaches to learning", allowing 

for "concentrated study in one area and. . .opportunities to 

develop creativity. . ." (Erskine College Winter Term Catalog , 
i). Exploring book culture and conducting hands-on projects 
in the book arts seems a natural fit for this kind of less than 
conventional academic term. 

1 1 

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The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 

The course syllabus describes The Book as "a course on 
books as physical objects, as made things. Students learn 
about the history and variety of approaches to book-making, 
about the many parts and processes required to produce 
a book, and about some famous and especially beautiful 
examples of the book maker's art. The course includes a 
significant hands-on component, which gives students the 
basic supplies and skills necessary to make paper, to make 
minor repairs to damaged books, and to make several of their 
own handmade books" (Winter Term Catalog, 7). Students 
| 2 should know right up front that this is not a lecture course or 
another opportunity for passive learning. 

I generally open the course by reading aloud from Annie 
Tremmel Wilcox's beautiful memoir, A Degree of Mastery, 
about her book arts apprenticeship under Bill Anthony at the 
University of Iowa Center for the Book: "A Circumstantial 
Narrative of the Campaign in Russia. This book has come 
downstairs to my workbench in Conservation from Special 
Collections because it needs treatment. It's not old — it was 
printed in 1 8 1 7 — and will be a good book for me to practice 
conservation techniques with. I pull out a treatment survey 
and report sheet and begin to fill it out" (Wilcox, Degree 
of Mastery, 3). I have asked students first just to listen for 
Wilcox's solid voice, not for mine. Upon a second reading, 
I ask them to freewrite about what they hear. Already some 
will be curious about the difference between Conservation 
and Special Collections departments. Many will note that 
1817 seems pretty old to them. Some students pick up on 
the idea of practicing certain techniques and beginning with a 
written record. Good. I read on: 

This book's major problem is that it doesn't have 
any covers. All that remains attached to the text 
block is the original leather spine of the binding with 
its label. [What's a text block?, many will ask in 
their freewriting] The leather appears to be calf and 
has red rot, a condition of older leather that causes 
it to turn red and crumble at the slightest touch. As 
I examine it, the spine leaves smudges all over my 
hands. [Yuck! or Gross!] Since this is a tight-back 
book where the leather cover is glued directly to the 
back of the text block, I will probably not be able to 
save the spine piece. With luck, however, I will be 
able to remove and reuse the label. [Cool, can she 
do that? How?] 

In the next four paragraphs, Wilcox describes opening the 
book for the first time, noticing its "faint musty smell" and 
the foxing on its pages. She mentions tears on many pages, 
especially along edges, and how her treatment options will 
only make the paper "softer and more vulnerable" (Wilcox, 
4) . She completes her survey sheet and takes a set of slides 

documenting the needs she has assessed. In pencil she letters 
the pages that aren't numbered. "Now I am ready to begin 
'pulling' the text block — the process of taking it apart for 
treatment. I open a tool drawer and take out my lifting knife" 
(Wilcox, 5). 

Usually that's all it takes. By the time I get to the end of 
this opening reading, if the class isn't also ready to take up 
old books and quirky hand tools and get to work, then I urge 
them to drop the course. (There's always a waiting list.) I 
then carefully place on the seminar table before them one 
of six volumes of The Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth 
Longfellow published in Boston by Houghton Mifflin in 1886. 
This book is in much better condition than Wilcox's copy 
of the Circumstantial Narrative, but it shares some of the 
common problems the students have already heard described: 
Especially if I handle the book with cotton gloves, they can 
see the smudging typical of older leather. Although this book 
has its original cover, when I open it gingerly, students can see 
that it is attached at the hinge only tenuously. They can see for 
themselves a badly torn onion skin page facing the traditional 
frontispiece portrait of Longfellow looking scholarly in 
middle age. Fortunately, I can't show them foxing on these 
pages, but I do invite students to breathe in that "faint musty 
smell older books often have" that Annie Tremmel Wilcox 
evidently finds pleasant, as many of us do. 

Wilcox had ended that first section of her memoir by 
opening a tool drawer and taking out her lifting knife. At this 
point, I do likewise, opening on the seminar table a large drop 
spine box in which I keep my own collection of bookbinding 
and repair tools. I begin, of course, with a bone folder, which 
I sometimes use as a lifting knife. (Maybe that's what they 
mean in the Moby-Dick footnote about the narwhale's tusk 
"folder," but I doubt it.) Students then receive their own bone 
folders, metal straightedges, synthetic fiber brushes, cutting 
mats, bottles of PVA, bulldog clamps, blunt- ended sewing 
needles, waxed linen thread, and sundry other items to start 

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The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 

their own tool kits. With other materials shared by the whole 
class, these are also the things they will need to complete 
nearly a dozen projects in book design, construction, and 

The first of those projects we do that first day in class. 
After an introductory mini-lecture on the beginnings of the 
book and some basic points about paper, the class makes 
scrolls. We talk about why scrolls date back nearly to the 
advent of writing, and how useful and versatile they are as a 
storage system. We then brainstorm collectively about how 
scrolls still might be used today. Students come up with some 
interesting ideas: using a scroll instead of a guest register at 
a graduation party or wedding, keeping a record of one's 
growing CD or DVD collection, or a visual record of one's 
tattoos. I keep in my office a handmade scroll containing the 
course syllabus for The Book. Depending on their respective 
purposes, students then select quality papers for their scrolls, 
checking the grain and determining how many sheets they 
will need to glue together. This is a very simple first project, 
but it entails several important basic concepts, among them 
paper selection and sizing, careful measurement and cutting, 
choice of material(s) and method for securing the scroll when 
it is rolled up, and initial work with PVA glue. 

The scroll project generally brings us to the close of the 
first class session. At the end of the period, I give them a 
syllabus; their first assignment is to study it and to finish 
detailing their scrolls. I read to the class every day. By the 
end of the first week, they've heard the entire opening section 
of A Degree of Mastery, "Beginnings and Endings," and 
early parts of the second section on "Tools." Also that week 
in addition to scrolls, the class tries their collective hand at 
accordion fold books and pamphlet construction. Along the 
way, they've picked up information about how paper is made 
and the mechanics of moveable type. 

That pattern of interspersing light lectures with reading 
aloud and supervising hands-on projects obtains for the rest 
of the short term, as the projects become steadily more 
demanding. In week two, for instance, students sew their 
first signatures and experiment with various stab binding 
techniques to produce an album or notebook. By week three 
they are working with multiple signatures and rudimentary 
casing in. For many this is the highlight of the course, taking 
turns with their own handiwork on a standing casing press. 
The culminating project is an eight- signature book sewn over 
tapes exposed at the spine. Students may then case this text 
(or not) as they wish, and their creativity always impresses 

I have emphasized the experiential features of this 
introductory book arts course, but it includes other elements 
of note. Two textbooks are required, one a manual for the 
hands-on projects, and the other a more scholarly or literary 
work in the field. In the former category, among many good 
choices available, I have had the most success with Kathy 
Blake's Handmade Books: A Step -by -Step Guide to Crafting 
Your Own Books, and Shereen La Plantz's Cover to Cover. 
The strengths of this latter text are numerous. Like most 
instructional books of this stripe, Cover to Cover is itself a 
beautiful book, lavishly illustrated with dozens of examples 
of each technique presented. Hand drawn figures illustrating 
every step of a given technique are clear and easy to follow. 
And to exemplify finished products, La Plantz has selected an 
especially nice mix of "over the top," artsy handmade books- 
as-sculptures — pieces well beyond the abilities of a novice — 
with many examples of the more basic, including simple 
project models for nearly every design. Students see right 
away that they can make books like some of these, while at the 
same time perhaps aspiring to make a more complicated work 
of visual book art someday. 

The main theme of Cover to Cover is that the basic 
techniques to make all kinds of books are essentially the same: 
"When an idea is a good one, keep making variations," La 
Plantz preaches (La Plantz, Cover to Cover, 26), "All [books 
of a certain type — all pamphlets or fold books, for example] 
use the same technique; only the format changes" (La Plantz, 
29). The variations described and illustrated for each of seven 
basic structures presented in the text make Cover to Cover 
an excellent resource for the course designed to introduce 
models and then have students experiment with them. 

Any course about book culture should probably also be 
in part a course about the love of reading books as well. To 
help address that aspect of the course, I have tried a couple 
of different approaches. I first had students read Umberto 


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Eco's fascinating novel about old books, The Name of the 
Rose. Unfortunately, even in an immersion- style setting 
where students (theoretically) concentrate on only this one 
inventive course they're taking, a book like The Name of 
the Rose proved too much. Too much arcane detail, too 
much Latin, too many pages. Students generally enjoyed 
the mystery at the heart of the novel — and they liked the 
fact that the mystery involved secret books — but, maybe not 
surprisingly, most preferred the movie version, in which the 
whole case is resolved in about two hours. I still like the idea 
of the class reading a best- selling book about book culture. I 
have toyed with the possibility of having them read Robert 
Hellenga's The Sixteen Pleasures, A. S. Byatt's Possession 
(which also made a good movie but is also too long), or one 
of the "Bookman" novels of John Dunning. Emphasizing other 
dimensions of bibliophilia or bibliomania, I myself devour the 
books of Nicholas Basbanes, but these works are, like The 
Name of the Rose, a bit too daunting for the Winter Term. 

Instead, the book I like best for the course is another 
personal favorite, A Passion for Books, edited by Harold 
Rabinowitz and Rob Kaplan. The subtitle says it all about this 
gem of a compendium: "A Book Lover's Treasury of Stories, 
Essays, Humor, Lore, and Lists on Collecting, Reading, 
Borrowing, Lending, Caring for, and Appreciating Books." 
Students are to read and ponder this book at their leisure 
during the term. As with Cover to Cover, they should read 
the text from beginning to end, but both of these books 
encourage browsing through their contents, lingering at spots 
that capture a student's attention, and then moving on to 
other parts of interest. Occasionally I will demonstrate that 
point by taking a break from my in- class reading of Wilcox's 
book to read aloud favorite passages from A Passion for 
Books. The difficulty here is deciding which favorite to read: 
Eco and Basbanes both are here, as are Roger Rosenblatt, 
Robertson Davies, and A. Edwin Newton. I nearly always 
read from Anna Quindlen's "How Reading Changed My Life." 
And the many book lists are irresistible, among them "Ten 
Best-Selling Books Rejected by Publishers Twenty or More 
Times," "Ten Memorable Books that Never Existed," "Norman 
Mailer's Ten Favorite American Novels," and of course the 
infamous Modern Library list of "Top 100 English- Language 
Novels of the Twentieth- Century." 

As they browse through this inspiring volume, students 
are to note their own favorites by keeping a reader-response 
journal. Their journal entries may take any form(s), as long 
as they strive for honesty and reflection. As they learn more 
about making books by hand, I encourage them to embellish 
their journals in any ways they like. By term's end they must 
bind their reading journals as a handmade book of their own 
design and construction. For students taking the course 
pass/ fail, the journal is their only formal writing assignment. 

Those electing to take the course for a letter grade must 
also submit a 5-7-page paper, either a brief, researched 
exploration of some historical or technical topic of interest 
to them, or a more formal reflective essay in response to any 
aspect of bibliophilia like those addressed in A Passion for 

Parts of A Passion for Books concern book care, which 
relates directly to another of the course workshops. About 
mid- way through the term, I take the class to our campus 
library, where our cataloger and archivist graciously shows 
them some of the rarest treasures of our own collections. 
Then she escorts us to a large studio-like space where she has 
gathered a number of books so badly damaged or misused 
that they have been removed from circulation. She and I then 
introduce students to a handful of basic book problems and 
repair techniques. 

We give each student a book in such poor condition that 
it likely cannot be salvaged: this becomes a "guinea pig" for 
their initial practice at doing what on the first day of class they 
heard Annie Tremmel Wilcox describe doing at the Center 
for the Book in Iowa. For at least a day, each student is to 
study that ruined book like Louis Agassiz's proverbial fish (or 
Ishmael's whale) and assess its needs on a check sheet much 
like Wilcox's treatment survey page. Over the next few days, 
using their own materials and others supplied by the library, 
students begin to make repairs. 

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The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 

They mend torn or dog-eared pages; they strengthen or 
restore bent corners on covers; they tip in loose pages or 
tighten loose cover hinges. The most common and most 
popular repair is to build new spines for books which may 
then return to the circulating stacks. In 2005 some two 
dozen books returned to circulation after these repairs. A 
former student now repairs volumes almost exclusively in her 
work- study time in the library; in 2006 that student trained a 
second library technician to make basic repairs like mending 
tears and replacing spines. As gratifying in a different way, 
each year several students ask if they may keep their "guinea 
pig," hoping to salvage it with enough proper care. 

The first time I taught The Book course I had planned for 
an artisan to visit and conduct workshops with students on at 
least one of the basic projects. The particular craftsman, who 
agreed to do this, Jake Benson, is an excellent conservator, 
but his real genius is in marbling papers. By the time the 
course came around, this young man had suspended his book 
repair business to return to graduate school full time, but the 
effort to enlist experts, especially book artisans, is a feature I 
still hope to add to the course. 

Similarly, though we have done it a couple of times, I would 
like to take better advantage of exhibits at nearby museums 
and libraries. For instance, the Robert C.Williams Paper 
Museum is located at the Georgia Institute of Technology, 
just over two hours distant from our campus. Even closer, 
in Greenville, SC, every couple of years one member of 
the art department at Fur man University, herself a book 
artist, mounts a major book arts exhibit at the university art 
gallery. And most helpful is the Department of Rare Books 
and Special Collections at the University of South Carolina's 
Thomas Cooper Library. Here major items are always on 
display: in 2002 an exhibit on The English Bible, in 2003 the 
Ralph Waldo Emerson bicentenary exhibition from The Joel 
Myerson Collection of Early Nineteenth- Century American 
Literature; in 2005 highlights from an extensive collection of 
fine printing; and in 2006-07 Fredson Bowers, A Centenary 
Exhibition on the scholar who founded modern bibliography 
and textual editing. Like many major research facilities, 
the USC library has also opened a Digital Archives Center, 
which features a growing number of online databases of 
unique materials from special collections. The center's first 
project digitized fifty original leaves of medieval manuscripts. 
Recent additions to the online archives include a digital sheet 
music project and 151 pages of handpress printing and its 

Wonderful as such resources are — and they are 
wonderful — nothing adequately substitutes for the feel of 
working with these materials by hand: sewing one's own 
signatures, gluing one's own tapes, or covering one's own 

Volume 3, Number 2, Spring 2007 

case: "weighing" 

papers between the fingers, holding them up 
to light to detect their chain lines or watermarks, and folding 
them along their grains. Over the years, project by project, 
one gravitates toward his favorite tools, and those tools come 
to reflect the book artist herself. Late in the first or early in 
the second week of The Book course, I read to the class this 
passage from A Degree of Mastery: 

Each apprentice worked to develop a personal set 
of tools. I had been building mine gradually since 
I first enrolled in Bill [Anthony] 's classes. I began 
with a single bone folder — a long, slender, flat piece 
of polished bone used primarily to sharpen creases 
when folding paper — that had been given to me by 
Kay Amert when I took her typography class 

Kay's class gave me the opportunity to create my 
first book from beginning to end, composing the 
text, designing the page layout, setting the type, 
printing the folios, and binding the books 

In one of the last demonstrations during that 
course, Kay had shown us how to do a simple full- 
cloth case binding. This was my first binding lesson. 
As her hands moved through the steps of the simple 
case construction, I was attracted to the tool she 

kept using to construct the cover After she was 

finished, I picked it up. It was cool, but warmed 
immediately in my hands. 

"Where can I get one of these?" I asked her. 

"You can't buy them here in town," she replied. 
"Just keep this one," she said. 

It was the generous act of a good teacher. It 
was my first bookbinding tool and one of my most 
cherished. In fact, bone folders became my favorite 
tool. (Wilcox, 60-62) 

Mine, too. And the favorite of many of my students. 
I'm guessing it also might have been a favorite of Herman 
Melville's, which may be why he referenced it in his greatest 
work. Melville never had a class like Bill Anthony's or Kay 
Amert 's or mine. "But I have swam through libraries and 
sailed through oceans," he says through Ishmael. "I have had to 
do with whales with these visible hands; I am in earnest; and 
I will try. There are some preliminaries to settle" (Melville, 
116). That's another passage I recite on the opening day 
of class. Sometimes I even put it on the front page of the 
syllabus. That, I tell students, is what they will do in the 
next few weeks, dealing with books (instead of whales) 
with their "visible hands." I let them know that I am earnest 
in the endeavor to guide them; I will try. We settle some 
preliminaries, and then together we dive in. 


The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 

Selected Student Works 


Selected Bibliography 

Works Cited 

Erskine College. Catalog for the Winter Term. Due West, 
SC: Erskine College, 2005. 

La Plantz, Shereen. Cover to Cover: Creative Techniques for 
Making Beautiful Books, Journals & Albums. New York: Lark 
Books, 2000. 

Melville, Herman. Moby-Dick. Norton Critical Edition, 
2/e. New York & London: W. W. Norton & Company, 2002. 

Rabinowitz, Harold, and Rob Kaplan. A Passion for Books: 
A Book Lover's Treasury of Stories, Essays, Humor, Lore, and 
Lists on Collecting, Reading, Borrowing, Lending, Caring for, 
and Appreciating Books . New York: Three Rivers Press, 1999. 

Wilcox, Annie Tremmel. A Degree of Mastery: A Journey 
through Book Arts Apprenticeship. Minnesota Voices Project 
Number 88. Minneapolis: New Rivers Press, 1999. 

Other Works Referenced 

Basbanes, Nicholas A. A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, 
Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books. New York: 
Henry Holt and Co., 1995. 

. Patience and Fortitude: A Roving Chronicle of 

Book People, Book Places, and Book Culture. New York: 
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 2001. 

. A Splendor of Letters: The Permanence of Books in an 

Impermanent World. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 
Inc., 2003. 

Blake, Kathy. Handmade Books: A Step-by-Step Guide to 
Crafting Your Own Books. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 

Byatt,A. S. Possession: A Romance. New York: Vintage 
Books, 1991. 

Eco, Umberto. The Name of the Rose. Trans. William 
Weaver. San Diego, New York, London: Harcourt Brace 
Jovanovich, Inc., 1983. 

Hellenga, Robert. The Sixteen Pleasures. New York: Warner 
Books, 1994. 

Quindlen, Anna. How Reading Changed My Life. The 
Library of Contemporary Thought. New York: Ballantine 
Publishing Group, 1998. 

Other Works Consulted for Course Projects 

Banister, Manly. The Craft of Bookbinding. New York: 
Sterling Publishing, 1975; Dover Publications, Inc., 1993. 

Collins, Paul. Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books. 
New York and London: Bloomsbury, 2003. 

de Hamel, Christopher. The Book. A History of the Bible. 
London and New York: Phaidon Press Limited, 2001 . 

Volume 3, Number 2, Spring 2007 

The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 

Ellis, Estelle, Caroline Seebohm, and Christopher Simon 
Sykes. At Home with Books: How Booklovers Live with 
and Care for Their Books. New York: Clarkson N. Potter 
Publishers, 1995. 

Ellis, Estelle, Wilton Wiggins, and Douglas Lee. The 
Booklover's Repair Manual. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. , 

Goldstone, Lawrence, and Nancy Goldstone. Used and Rare: 
Travels in the Book World. New York: St. Martin's, 1998 

. Slightly Chipped: Footnotes in Booklore. New York: St. 

Martin's, 2001. 

Griinebaum, Gabriele. How to Marbleize Paper: Step-by - 
Step Instructions for 12 Traditional Patterns. New York: 
Dover Publications, Inc., 1984. 

Publications, Inc., 1992. 

James, Angela. The Handmade Book. Pownal,VT: Storey 
Books, 2000. 

Lewis, A. W. Basic Bookbinding. New York: Dover 
Publications, Inc., 1957. 

Loxley, Simon. Type: The Secret History of Letters. London 
& New York: I. B.Taurus, 2004. 

Man, John. Gutenberg: How One Man Remade the World 
with Words. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2002. 

McKerrow, Ronald B. An Introduction to Bibliography for 
Literary Students. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1928; 1967. 

Mehigan, Janet, and Mary Noble. The Encyclopedia of 
Calligraphy Techniques . Philadelphia and London: Running 
Press Book Publishers, 2005. 

Petroski, Henry. The Book on the Bookshelf. New York: 
Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1999. 

Ramsey, Angela. The Handmade Paper Book. Pownal,VT: 
Storey Books, 1999. 

Rosenberg, Margot, and Bern Marcowitz. The Care and 
Feeding of Books Old and New: A Simple Repair Manual for 
Book Lovers. New York: MJF Books, 2002. 

Studley, Vance. The Art & Craft of Handmade Paper. New 
York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1977; Dover Publications, Inc., 

Van Wingen, Peter. Your Old Books . Chicago : American 
Library Association, 1988. 

Watson, Aldren A. Hand Bookbinding: A Manual of 
Instruction. New York: Macmillan, 1986; Dover Publications, 
Inc., 1996. 

Sources of Images 

<http: / / manual/ tools /bone. 
html> [bone folders] 

<http:/ /www. supplies/bookbinding/ 
images /bbrepairkit.jpg> [repair kit] 

<http: / / index. php?/ categories/ 3- 
Rants> [book casing] 

Personal photographs [damaged book, repair tool kit] 

Techniques for Marbleizing Paper. New York: Dover Footnote 

1 — "Library lore . . . states that the original bone folders 
were taken from the corset stays of early pupils of Melville 
Dewey at Columbia U. Hence, they are 'bone folders' 
because they were made from baleen, a cheap bone-like 
substance taken from the mouths of whales and used for 
corset stays, rulers and other functions, very prevalent during 
the 19th and early 20th centuries." From Robert L. Hadden, 
author of the Internet web site netbib, a German library site. 
This familiar anecdote about bone folders is cited from a 
page on "old days of libraries," accessed on August 8, 2006, at 
<http: / / ar t/ hadden. htm > 

N. Bradley Christie is Professor of English and 
Coordinator of the Theatre Program at Erskine College 
in Due West, SC. He teaches a first-year seminar on 
reading as a craft, and literature courses that highlight 
the importance of reading and book culture to the 
development of American literary history and culture. In 
the Winter Term described in this article, he alternates 
The Book course with a similar hands-on course in fly 
fishing and a study program in New York City, which 
includes excursions to libraries, book exhibits, and as 
many wonderful book stores as the class can stand. He 
can be reached at <nbc(S!>. 


Thomas, Jane, and Paul Jackson. On Paper: New Paper Art. 
London: Merrell Publishers Ltd., 2001 . 

Volume 3, Number 2, Spring 2007 

The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 


The Book Art of Melissa Jay Craig 

By Jen Thomas 

Melissa Jay Craig is a book artist whose work easily 
inhabits both the craft-based world of traditional book arts 
and the sculptural world of fine art. For reasons unknown to 
most working within the field of book arts, this feat seems 
difficult to achieve. Her freestanding book objects are easily 
at home nestled between other artist's books or displayed as 
purely sculptural objects on their own. Life-size book forms 
resembling trees rising up from the ground force viewers to 
challenge their idea of what a book should look like. Bark 
becomes spine. Lichens become pages. Trunk becomes book. 

Anatomically Correct: Filtration, 2003, kozo, abaca, black 
cotton denim, packed sewing on dyed hemp cords, dyed raw 
silk endband. 18"Hx 6"W x 6"D 

. . . A Memoir, 2004, kozo, abaca, acrylic stain, walnut dye. 
Sewn to Hax-wrapped hemp cords. 72"H x 16"W x 28"D 

Craig's work has slowly evolved into many different forms 
over the last 30 years. She began her career as a painter in 
Cleveland, Ohio after briefly attending Cooper School of Art 
in the seventies. Though she had developed a small collector 
base, Craig became disillusioned with painting, realizing 
that collectors looked straight through her painstaking 
work, choosing paintings simply because they matched their 
decor. She began to make assemblages in addition to the 
painting, and also to implement large-scale outdoor "non- 
commissioned public works" that were installed in the dead 
of night around the city of Cleveland, with a group of friends 
known as the Regional Art Terrorists. 

In 1986, she moved to Chicago to study at the School of 
the Art Institute, where she discovered book arts almost 
by accident. One semester into her painting degree, Craig 
began experimenting with book art while looking for an 
affordable, more democratic way to make art that could easily 
be distributed to a wider audience. By working with the book 
form, she could also actively engage the viewer with words, 
images, and 3 -dimensional forms. 

Though initially drawn to the democratic and economic 
nature of the book form, Craig soon became completely 
absorbed in the expressive potential of the book. Its physical 
form and the processes needed to create it all fascinated her, 
but she was particularly enthralled by the potential of the 
book to communicate and express, as well as contain ideas. 
She translated themes from her paintings into traditional 
book forms and then began to experiment by altering existing 
books. This allowed her to play with words and the action 

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The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 

of reading. She soon left the painting department and never 
looked back. 

Altered book, early 1990s 

Craig then began to use the books themselves as objects or 
building blocks, creating installations with them to actively 
engage the viewer in the act of reading, as well as in the act of 
moving and absorbing visual information. 

It was during this time at the Art Institute that she studied 
under Ray Martin and Joan Flasch, both of whom encouraged 
Craig to explore the creative potential within the book form. 
Soon her pieces evolved from traditional book structures 
into stylized book objects. She took these book objects a step 
further and created an installation titled Library. Without a 
universally accepted critical definition of book arts, Craig was 
free to let her ideas materialize without the limitations that 
painting had previously presented. 

Library, 1991 

Though Craig felt free to experiment with the book form, 
not all those working within the field of book arts recognized 
her work as artist's books. The critic Clive Philpott once 
derided Craig's work during his lecture at an artists' book 
event at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. 
Craig says, "I had some of my altered books there and he 

referred to them directly, saying, 'These are NOT books. 
They are fetishistic objects.' Knowing his particular bias, I 
felt honored to be included in his condemnation. I do make 
objects. Books are objects. What makes them fetishistic is 
their inherent resonance, the ability to communicate on a 
visceral, nonverbal level. So, like the issue of beauty, I can 
embrace that description; fetishistic objects carry an implicit 
communicative power. They can be read." 

Maquette, 1990, found dictionary, scale model brick, flexible 
caulk, drawing. 

In the years after leaving the Art Institute, Craig's book 
forms continued to shift and change, while still remaining 
"fetishistic objects" and retaining her unmistakable satirical 
voice. She moved away from installed work to focus on books 
constructed with found objects. Soon she found herself 
teaching book arts to a new generation of art students who 
had never before discovered the form that she had fallen in 
love with. 

Though she had never intended to become a teacher when 
she began her Master's program at the Art Institute, in 1991 
Barbara Lazarus Metz asked Craig to teach a bookbinding 
class at Artists' Book Works and she agreed. After that she 
was offered many more teaching opportunities and spent the 
mid-nineties running between classes at Loyola University, 
Gallery 37, School of the Art Institute, Artists' Book Works, 
and the Newberry Library, often all in a single week. She also 
traveled, teaching workshops at different locations around the 
country, and managed to continue free-lancing as a set builder 
for commercial photo and video productions. 

Artists' Book Works was enveloped by Columbia College in 
1994, becoming Columbia College Chicago's Center for Book 
and Paper Arts, and Craig continued to teach there. She then 
slowly relinquished all of her far-flung part-time teaching jobs 
to focus her energy into helping to grow this new Center, first 
as Exhibitions Coordinator, then part-time faculty, and finally 
as a full-time Artist-in-Residence, a position she still holds 


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The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 

Since joining the Center for Book and Paper, Melissa 
has created seven courses that are now included in the 
permanent college curriculum. Her classrooms have become 
communities in which students can continue to experiment 
with the book form without limitation and push boundaries in 
a supportive environment. Her students approach book arts 
from a variety of disciplines — papermaking, performance, 
video, sculpture, writing, printmaking, and fine binding — and 
Craig manages to encourage each of her students to create 
book and paper art that reflects their personal affinity for 
2Q these unique and disparate backgrounds. Benjamin Chandler, 
a former student and educator himself, says, "She has the 
ability to go to the meaning and heart of what you want to say 
in your work and help you to say it better. She is enthusiastic 
about her students' work ."This sentiment was echoed over 
and over by former students who offered "It is rare to find a 
teacher who has the degree of deeply heart felt dedication to 
the success and well being of her students", "Melissa is very 
generous with herself", and "I loved that she never projected 
her own agenda or issues onto me, and listened to me fully 
as my own person and artist." She has also been able to 
balance being an inspiring teacher and successful working 
artist simultaneously, a balance that many artist/ educators 
find extremely difficult to achieve. In 2002, Melissa Jay Craig 
was awarded the Excellence in Teaching Award at Columbia 
College, an honor she received by being nominated by both 
students and fellow faculty. 

Though she's been receiving kudos from former students 
and faculty for the last several years, Craig has said that it 
wasn't easy for her to find a home in academe. 

Her artist's books were considered too sculptural and, well, 
too wacky for institutions looking for a fine binding instructor 
or an artist who focused exclusively on multiples. 

"I'm difficult to pigeonhole. I'm not exclusively a sculptor, 
a bookbinder, a papermaker, a printmaker, an installation 
or collage or assemblage artist, yet I do all those things, 
without a set hierarchy. I use what I learned as a painter and a 
carpenter constantly as well, and periodically incorporate my 
drawing into my work, and I tend to think and solve problems 
with drawings rather than in words. Book artist is the most 
convenient term, but it's one that people like to argue with. 

I came into the Interdisciplinary Arts Department's 
developing book arts MFA program at Columbia College 
in 1996, and this unique approach allowed me to embrace 
teaching as well." 

Page spreads from Manifest, O, 2006, Kozo, abaca, 
translucent goatskin vellum, tie-dyed goatskin leather, 
bamboo, Walnut dye, acrylic stain, Prismcolor drawings. 
Sewn to hemp cords, dyed lined endbands, modified split- 
board binding 18.5"Hx 12.5"Wx 5"D closed. 

Several years ago, Craig's approach to book arts changed 
dramatically after learning that she was losing her hearing. 
She was shocked at the news and stopped making artwork in 
order to process it; she needed to mentally prepare herself 
for a future without sound. Audrey Niffenegger, in an act of 
faith, invited Craig to create a piece for an exhibition she was 
curating, on the basis of one of her sketches. Melissa revisited 
the altered book form, arranging them into the expanding 
rings of a large tree trunk named DisAfter. This was the 
beginning of a new phase of work in which her books took on 
more forms pulled straight from nature. 

Volume 3, Number 2, Spring 2007 

The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 

DisAfter, 1998, altered books, 68"diameter 

When she finally returned to making art, she began to 
experiment with kozo, a paper making fiber that she had 
never used before. Having no formal training in papermaking, 
Craig spent her first residency at the Ragdale Foundation 
the following year to experiment with kozo exclusively. She 
found that this quiet plant fiber could speak so loudly on its 
own, taking the place of words in her new pieces. Her new 
books took the form of trunks, empty shells of books with no 
pages, no words, to reflect her future world without sound. 

Forgotten Knowledge, 1999, kozo, edition of 12. 

As her hearing had slowly deteriorated, Craig had 
unconsciously learned to read lips to compensate for the 
lack of sound. "I didn't realize that's what I was doing; I read 
lips so well that I actually believed that I was hearing", she 
says. When she discovered the extent of her hearing loss, the 
sudden realization that she had learned a whole new form 
of reading began to heighten her awareness of other forms 
of reading. Her books then became more far more tactile, 
compelling viewers to absorb meaning through the smell or 
touch of plant fiber and the book's physical form, instead of 

the written word strung together in a standard narrative. 
Craig's physical limitation seemed to unleash creative 
possibilities in her new artist's books. 

Craig's deteriorating hearing also piqued her interest in 
other forms of entropy occurring in nature. She began to 
collide the book form with decaying carriers of information 
found in the environment — seed pods, plants, desiccated tree 
trunks, and fungi. These often huge sculptural bookworks are 
at once compelling and repellant, urging viewers to touch, 
but warning them that nature is fragile and there could be 
bugs hiding in there! (At least that's what I always think when 
I contemplate pulling back one of her brightly colored kozo 
fungi pages.) 

She continued to experiment with kozo, in addition to 
other plant fibers such as abaca and flax. Craig began molding 
these fibers onto forms and eventually added color to them 
with procion dyes. Her tree books grew a host of paper plant 
life bursting with the color of fungus. She was now thoroughly 
seduced by paper and eventually acquired her own beater, 
turning her basement into her own papermaking studio. 

That's Life, 2005, kozo, abaca, walnut dye, procion dye, oak, 
poplar. Adhesive binding. 30"H x 34"W x 12"D 


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The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 

Craig brought her paper experimentations into the 
classroom at Columbia and designed a sculptural paper class. 
The woman who dropped out of papermaking class within 
the first week while at the Art Institute and waited ten years 
to try it again had now fully embraced the medium and was 
intent on sparking that same enthusiasm in her students. 
(After writing that sentence I'm reminded of my own grad 
school beginnings, eye-rolling at the thought of having to 
make my own paper. Now I work almost exclusively with 
handmade paper. Do all book artists go through this love/ 
2 2 hate relationship with paper?) When I asked her the same 

question, Craig offered, "It is weird. . . the material just suited 
me so well that it demanded that I learn it, and it continues to 
demand that I keep expanding." 

As Craig has expanded her work with paper, her artist's 
books have achieved a level of aesthetic beauty that she 
had almost deliberately avoided in making earlier pieces. 
Admittedly afraid of making "beautiful" work, Craig struggled 
with the new natural forms that her books were taking. She 
feared that viewers would only see the beauty and then move 
on without further exploring or engaging with her pieces. It 
is a struggle that most artists deal with — making work that is 
aesthetically pleasing, yet thought provoking at the same time. 
She says she has finally embraced making beautiful things, 
and lost the accompanying uncertainty about how they'll be 

Jen Thomas is a writer, printmaker, and book artist 
who lives and works in Chicago. When she s not 
constructing three-dimensional board games about 
renter's nightmares and painful weddings, she spends 
her time editioning etchings of trailer parks under her 
own imprint, Veronica Press. Her writing has appeared 
in Punk Planet, Afterimage, and Blister Packs - a Love 
Bunni Press anthology. She can be reached at <jen_>, or on the Web at <http:/ / www. 
flickr. com / photos / jenthomas> 

And for those who are reluctant to call her a book artist, 
Melissa leaves us this thought, ". . .Though my art is often 
called sculpture and often called book art; to me, it is simply 
my art. It is firmly based in the book, in my fascination 
with book structures, and in how books function for us; my 
work would not exist without my strong and multifaceted 
relationship to books and especially to reading. But in the 
end, I simply make things that I personally need to see 
existing in the world." Regardless of what kind of artist she is 
or isn't, I'm glad that her pieces exist in this world - whatever 
anyone chooses to call them. 

Ganoderma Bibliatum (Specimen 9), 2007, abaca, adhesive 
binding, 13"Hx 16"W x ll"D 

Volume 3, Number 2, Spring 2007 

The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 

Solving the Production Puzzle: 

Jigs and Other Tips for Hand Binding 

Books in Multiples. 

By Priscilla Spitler, Hands On Bookbinding 

Priscilla Spitler inspecting 2005 edition of artist Jim Dine's 
book, Oceans, printed by the Tandem Press, University of 
Wisconsin in an edition of 37 books and boxes, including 
artist's proofs. 

It has been both surprising and encouraging to witness the 
interest in production binding in recent years by the many 
requests I have had for workshops on the subject. Often it 
seems like a big hoax when I pull out some basic jig made 
from scrap binders' board, assembled with glue or double 
stick tape, and wrapped in clear plastic tape for ease in 
cleaning. It is the awe from students when I demonstrate its 
use that makes me feel like I just pulled a rabbit from a hat. 

There is nothing new about using jigs for multiple or 
repetitive bookbinding operations. Nor is there anything 
unusual about what I have to share, except that these simple 
aides can make the job go faster, more efficiently and 
consistently. While I pull from scrap materials at hand in my 
rural studio, more ambitious jigs can be machined or created 
with further investigation and reuse of other products in the 
market. A trip down a home improvement center isle can 
yield endless possibilities for making jigs. 

Most important in what I hope to extend by using a simple 
jig in a workshop is the spirit behind finding an appropriate 

solution that will make the job easy and even fun. Originally 
a printmaker in the 1970s first interested in editioning prints, 
it was natural that edition bookbinding appealed to me when 
I became a bookbinder in the 1 980s. But it is not just the jigs 
or set ups that make a job flow, it is a game plan, a numbers 
game, even the simple joy of watching one pile of undone 
work grow into the pile of done ones. 

As a student at the London College of Printing (1980- 
198 1), my main tutors Alfred Brazier and John Mitchell 
taught us to work on multiple single item jobs at once, a good 
habit. As one book was pressing, we were taught to be busy 
with a step on another, always multitasking. My real exposure 
to production work came from the eight years I trained staff 
at the original BookLab, Inc., in Austin, Texas, to work in the 
house style preferred by chief owner, Craig Jensen, whom 
I dub the master of jigs. At BookLab we were constantly 
challenged to come up with efficient means for speeding up 
the job while maintaining quality craftsmanship. 

Down to Business 

How does a hand binder with an art degree somehow 
make a living at edition binding? It is not just the jigs; it is 
the planning and the on-the-job experience with both the 
successful and sometimes the not so successful jobs. I do not 
profess to be the expert. I have no business degree. The tips I 
share in this article come purely from my own experience and 
from discussions with other binders who do edition work. In 
particular, my suggestions for coming up with a shop rate are 
intended to open a dialogue on the topic. 

As part of my workshop series on edition binding, I created 
an outline breaking down the process from the beginning to 
the finish of an edition job with a prospective client. Many of 
these steps can be made applicable for individuals who wish to 
hand bind their own book editions. The content of the original 
outline has been adapted for this article. 

Specifications and Design 

Initially, each book edition has a set of given specifications 
to gather before estimating the cost for both the materials 
and the labor involved in binding it. First, obtain all the 
details about the job from your client, whether they may be a 
publisher, printer or an artist, photographer. 


Volume 3, Number 2, Spring 2007 

The Bone folder •; an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 


The Dine text arrived crated. Each full spread required 
scoring and hinging to create a folded edge at the fore-edge, 
which the artist requested. 

Specifics should include the actual size and format of 
the folded sections for the book, the number of sections 
(signatures) to sew, the quantity of books to be bound, and 
the basic materials desired for its binding (cloth or leather, for 
example) . It is important to know from the onset whether 
there is a deadline like a book signing or an exhibit already 
scheduled for this edition. Make a bid checklist. 

Tip: In a "hand" shop, you may want to set a limit 
to the size editions you may take on, in quantity and 
also format. Be realistic about your limitations. Too 
often, I have seen artists or photographers go for 
large quantity editions (don't be fooled, 100 books 
is large for a hand bound edition). It could take years 
for a deluxe edition to sell and the client (or you!) 
may loose interest in it and move on to new work 
before it has sold out. For this reason, avoid breaking 
up the binding of an edition job (or set an agreed 
schedule for binding it), or else you could end up 
warehousing materials and unfinished projects. 

Selection of Binding Structure & Design 

Choose or direct your client toward an appropriate binding 
structure and to suitable materials for the specified job. When 
working with a client for the first time, expect to invest 
some time educating them as far as structure, materials, 
grain direction, printing specifications, etc., to make sure 
your job as binder goes more smoothly. It will also save them 
money in terms of your labor. However, do not give them too 
many options or else there may be confusion or complicated 

After this initial period of exchange, the design process 
eases as a working relationship is established. It will be a 
worthwhile investment in the long run because, if happy, the 

client will return for future or regular work that bypasses this 
learning curve. 

Creative Challenge 

Each job has a different set of problems to solve, some 
normal with simple solutions and others more complex 
requiring special treatment. Within reason, be open to the 
creative challenge the client may present. Flexibility towards 
artistic demands can lead to new discoveries and use of 
materials that you may apply to future work in your studio. 
You may resist them at first, but the key here is to know 
where to draw the line or to know what your limitations 
are. Searching for a design solution for a specific job may 
also cause interaction and consultation with other binding 
colleagues, so everyone learns. 

Finally, if dealing with an institutional client, the most 
creative challenge may simply be dealing with the constraints 
within their system such as to how to get a deposit for the job 
before you start. You are not in the business of financing them 
during production, so often, once a bid is accepted, you can 
get around this problem by invoicing the job in two parts, the 
first one for the deposit. 

Job Bid 

It is necessary to estimate as accurately as possible the total 
cost to produce job, both in labor and materials. 



Once the structure and materials have been selected, break 
down all steps for the labor involved in binding the edition. 
Estimate the time for completing each step, down to the 
second. It helps to begin with a single book or unit of the 
edition and the steps involved in binding it (understanding 
that later, time will be saved by batching each operation or 
step together when in production) . 

Times assigned to each of the steps can be determined by 
past job experience, from daily work sheets or from keeping 
a job diary listing the operation and quantity done in a set 
time. Or, there may be a bit of guesswork, assigning time to 
a specific task without real hands on tests. You could use a 
stopwatch and go through the motions. Don't forget setups 
or other movements when estimating time and average them. 
Sometimes, estimating time is a bit of trial and error. 

Once times are assigned to each task or step, total up the 
time estimated for binding per unit or individual binding and 
multiply that figure times your shop rate, which has been 
broken down to the minute. Then, multiply the unit labor cost 
times the number of books to be bound for the total labor for 
an edition. 

Volume 3, Number 2, Spring 2007 

The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 


Make a separate list of all materials required for the job 
and calculate the quantity needed to order, including their 
cost and shipping. Some binderies add an extra 10-15% 
when estimating cost of materials. Plan to order a little extra 
material and paper in case of flaws, for prototypes or errors, 
especially if stamping titles or engravings on cases is part of 
the job. After figuring the total materials cost, divide that total 
by the edition number to get a unit material cost. Add that 
figure to the unit labor estimate for the total per book. 

Estimate or add on any extra expense of possible 
subcontracted work, the engravings for stamping titles or any 
unique add-ons for the particular job. You may not be able to 
determine these costs during the initial bid process, so it is 
best to list these items separately. 

About Shop Rates 

If you intend to bill for this kind of work, it is important 
to establish a shop rate or hourly rate. How might one do 
this? You could consult with other binders to get a general 
feel for the "going rate". But, some binders may not be 
so forthcoming with what they charge on an hourly basis, 
especially if they are competing for the same job. 

Other factors such as experience should be considered, but 
a good guide is to first look at your overhead. One formula 
might be to total the rent or cost of workspace, the utilities, 
general shop insurance, etc., for the month and divide that 
figure by 30 to get a daily rate. Break the daily rate down by 
the hour and then by the minute. A fellow colleague divides 
her month by 20 since that is the actual time she works in her 
bindery. It would also be more accurate to divide the daily 
overhead by the actual hours of operation. 

To this hourly overhead figure, add what you need to charge 
to cover your own pay or any help you may have, and even 
health insurance broken down to an hourly figure. This will 
give you a real look at what you need to charge. Finally, add 
more for a buffer or profit margin, if possible. For example, 
you may aim to earn three times the cost of labor if you 
have employees. Balance the total hourly figure you have 
established against what you feel is the going rate, or that you 
feel you can charge for the job. Adjustments may need to be 

Shop rates may vary. A binder in New York City may have to 
charge more than one living in another, more rural part of the 
country. Unfortunately, edition work is competitive. Clients 
are looking for the best quote because they are usually selling 
the book or binding afterwards (though some opt for quality 
over the best rate if they appreciate your work). Once a quote 

has been made, it must be honored because the client/ 
publisher has already done advance work to sell the edition at 
a set price. 

With custom or individual work, single item jobs, it is most 
often bid on an hourly basis and it should be understood that 
it might cost more at the end of the job. With conservation 
work, treatment reports and estimates are given and they 

are almost always done on an hourly basis usually at a 

higher rate than production work, which is a fact. This might 
be explained by the extra training to do such work, special 
equipment needed, or the high insurance costs to cover 
valuable works in a shop. It is also true that an institution 
or collector with a rare or personal artifact is usually more 
willing to spend more for single item conservation work. 

Prepare a formal bid 

Give a full description of the proposed job including the 
structure selected, the materials, and all details such as text 
trims, rounding and backing, stamping, etc. It is not necessary 
to reveal your time estimates or hourly rate, unless the job 
is being billed on an hourly basis. Clearly state whether the 
bid includes all or some of the materials and what they are 
(not necessarily how much they cost) . List the unit price per 
book or box edition (or set) and then the total for the entire 

Tip: In case the client opts to cut down the 
edition number after your bid is submitted, state in 
the initial bid that any changes may mean a unit cost 
increase and that a new or adjusted bid may need 
to be submitted. For example, while the labor may 
remain the same, the material costs and shipping per 
unit increase because you have to buy them by full 
sheets, by the yard, or by the full skin of leather. 

Be clear about what is not included in the estimated bid 
or quote, such as the shipping expense and that it is to be 
added to final bill; or, any extras not yet determined such as 
stamping dies or subcontracted work. State your terms, such 
as when and how much deposit is required and when the 
balance is due. 

It is a good idea to include an approximate date the job 
will be completed once it is scheduled and is in house. 
It is also wise to state how long the bid is good for, or to 
place an expiration date on it. Unfortunately, from my 
own experience, there has been the rare occasion when I 
have placed a bid, received the deposit and even purchased 
materials for a job, and then the job comes to a halt and sits, 
month after month, due to a printing or design problem. In 
this case, keep in touch with the client for updates and if they 
are extended, resubmit bid with new labor costs if changed. 


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The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 

You may want to sign your bid before submitting it to your 
client for approval. Today, however, most of this process is 
done by email, so the paper copy may be a thing of the past. 
I email bids and follow up with a signed paper copy in the 
mail. You might require the client to sign a copy as a contract, 
particularly on a large edition. But, generally, the receipt 
of a deposit is an accepted bid and agreement. It is also 
understood, with edition work that once you receive a deposit 
that you must honor your estimate and keep to that bid. Keep 
the bid sheet handy in a file or on the computer in order to 
2g reference during production for details and time awareness. 

Materials are ordered once the deposit is received. The 
ordering of materials is critical to the timing of the project. 
Always keep informed with the client about the printing 
schedule or progress if waiting for text. 

Tip: Consider charging a fee for bids up front 
and then crediting the cost from the final hill once 
the job is done. If you choose to do this, the client 
should understand this from the beginning. The fee 
may cover some of the time invested in preparing the 
bid in case it is not accepted. It could also eliminate 
those potential clients who are not really serious 
about their projects. 


Make a prototype or "spec" binding from either a dummy 
provided by client, such as blanks of actual paper to be used; 
or, by working on one set of text sheets from the edition. 
If a prototype is requested for client approval, it should be 
returned for reference during production. Charge for the 
prototype if the work is extensive or additional ones are 
requested with changes (on hourly basis). 

Tip: During the bidding process, a separate 
estimate for a prototype might be included at a 
different rate than the production rate (it will no 
doubt take longer). The bid should be adjusted if 
extra steps and/ or materials are added after initial 

A prototype may not be necessary with repeat clients now 
more familiar with the process, their structures and with your 
work. However, the first spec binding develops awareness of 
all steps involved in the specific job. Often just sewing and 
preparing one of the text blocks in the edition, then making 
the case but not gluing it to the text, is all that is needed to 
gather the cuts or measurements needed. This binding also 
helps to plan the job during production and to decide when a 
jig might speed up operations. 

Prepare a cut sheet. The spec binding establishes final size 
specifications and measurements for cutting materials. If done 
first, it also determines the exact quantity of materials to 
order, if not yet calculated during the bidding process. 


Organization & Scheduling. Preparation of job components 
begins with the unpacking and inspection of text sheets and 
materials from the printer or artist client. Prepare set ups 
or jigs for certain operations, and a job folder with clear 
specifications, particularly if you are working with others in 
the bindery. 

Scoring the Dine text for hinging two full spreads into 
sections for sewing. 

Another simple jig helped align the two page spreads. Hinges 
were alternated from spine to fore-edge to distribute the 

The order of all steps is planned from folding and collation 
of signatures (usually done by the printer, but not always), 
sewing, making cases and casing-in, to finishing and shipping. 
Tasks are assigned if working with staff. Once working 

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The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 

from prototype specs and a cut sheet, some steps are done 
in sequence and others can be done simultaneously. It is 
important to carry the whole edition through each stage or 
step if possible, for better efficiency, to avoid multiple set ups, 
and to gain speed on repetitious jobs. 

Teamwork helps to overcome any dread of repetitious steps 
by setting group goals and for pacing each other. Teamwork 
helps maintain steady flow of production and transition of 
steps. If working alone, however, one can set personal goals 
by the hour, or on a daily/ weekly basis. 

Cutting Materials 

Cut materials for the entire edition, plus extras in case of 
loss in production. Examine cut specs in advance for the most 
economic cuts in use of both time and materials. If the largest 
cuts are made first from the full size board, for example, then 
you can make better use of scraps or off cuts for smaller parts. 
Templates can be used for rough cutting cloth and leather. 
If possible and when you have control, guillotine the paper, 
rough- cut sheets of cloth or even board (though board may 
dull guillotine blades quickly) . 

Assembly & Construction 

Prepare jigs when needed for speed and consistency. The 
time invested in the construction of the jig should merit the 
time saved in production. For a few items or single items jobs, 
making a jig may be too time consuming to prove useful. Set 
up workspace for most efficient movement. 

Craig Jensen's set up for stamping case spines consistently at 
his BookLab II bindery. 

Finishing (Stamping & Labeling) 

Edition cases should be completed and dried before 
setting up for stamping spine or board titles, engravings or 
for stamped recesses on the hot stamping machine. Advance 

planning is required when cases need to be stamped before 
casing in. Obtain artwork for title or design from the client 
well in advance, or direct them to order it themselves from a 
supplier (like Owosso) and have them drop shipped to your 
bindery. Order the engraving as soon as possible to avoid 
delay. Allow time for stamping samples for foil color choice, if 
client requests it. 

A special trim pad was needed to compensate for the swell at 
both the spine and fore-edge while trimming the head and tail 
of the book. 

Profile of Jim Dine's Oceans shows trimmed edge. 

Post Production 


Cleaning, inspecting and wrapping books or boxes can 
be time consuming and can easily eat up any profit saved in 
production if you are not careful. Determine key details to 
look for to pass inspection. You may consider adding this 
operation into the bidding process as part of the job. Here's 
where an extra copy during production can cover a possible 
reject. Develop awareness during production to keep clean 
work and clean work surfaces to avoid time spent cleaning the 
edition at the end of the job. 


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The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 


Packaging & Shipping 

Size, weight and insurance value of each item may dictate 
the means of shipping and the quantity of containers /boxes 
needed to ship a finished job. Consult with client first about 
their choice --- they will be paying for it in your final billing. 
Order all packing materials and any special box sizes ahead to 
avoid delays. Follow shipper's guidelines for weight and size 
limitations. It is wise to break up the edition into manageable 
weights to avoid damage if dropped in transit. If the client 
declines insurance for some reason or under insures, at least 
cover cost of binding and material costs for your protection. 

Shipping expense is added to the final job billing and it is 
determined by the shipper's charge, insurance and the cost of 
all packing materials. Your bindery may set a rate for packing 
fee, which will probably differ from shop rate for binding the 

Priscilla finishes Bob Baris' Press on Scroll Road 2006 book 


Assessment of Finished Edition 

Was the job bid in line with actual production? Your time 
sheet or daily notebook can be reviewed. It is always a good 
idea to keep one even if the times are quickly jotted down on 

a note pad. Time recording develops awareness over time and 
assists in future bids, as you now know how long it takes for a 
certain task. 

There are more questions you may ask yourself at the 
completion of binding an edition. Was the combination of 
materials and the structure successful? Did new innovations 
occur that could be applied to jobs in future? Or, were there 
problems to avoid in future? Were you pleased with the 
product? But, ultimately, was the client pleased? 

Photograph a sample of the binding for your records. Some 
publishers or other clients offer a copy to the binder, while 
some binders request a copy of the edition, stated in the initial 
bid or contract. Don't assume that you will receive a copy; it 
should be discussed from the beginning. 

Keep a file on the job, including communications, bids, 
and even cut sheets for reference. If the client is happy with 
your work, they will probably return for a future job and 
these records are useful for comparison. The next job may 
be the same format and type of materials, so you have just 
gained time by having the information on hand, with some 
modifications in new material costs. 

A Sampling of Jigs 

An assortment of jigs made from binders' board. 

Jigs speed up the job and insure accuracy when a binding 
operation is to be repeated consistently. They can be very 
simple and may even become general tools used in the 
workshop, such as joint jigs for making case covers or 
punching jigs for hand- sewn editions. Or, the jig can be 
specific to an edition when the structure, design or materials 
require special handling. 

Jigs can be made easily and inexpensively with binders' 
board. They can be cut, laminated, and covered with clear 
packing tape in order to clean and to keep edges sharp while 

Volume 3, Number 2, Spring 2007 

The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 

in use. If a jig becomes a standard shop tool, it may be worth 
the extra expense to make the jig in wood or to have it 
machined in metal. 

While some jigs can serve multiple functions, most of the 
jigs presented here are oriented to the case binding structure, 
flat or rounded, since this binding style is most frequently 
used in edition work. Simple jigs should have simple names, 
and it is my hope that the name assigned to each one is self- 

Joint Jigs 

Hand held joint jigs are basic tools for the workshop for 
creating even and consistent joints between the case spine and 
boards when assembling cases. Simply laminate various pieces 
of binders' board until the desired joint width or thickness is 
achieved. For easy handling, cut the board pieces to 3" x 1 2" 
before laminating. Production of large books or boxes may 
require longer jigs. It is helpful to have sets of joint jigs in a 
range of joint widths from 3mm to 9mm ( 1 / 8" to 5/1 6") . 
Clamshell box cases may only require 3mm, 4mm or 5mm 
joints, depending on the material used and board thickness. 
Bookcases need larger joints if pressed between brass edge 
boards, with joints made from 6mm to 9mm, with 8mm 
being the average. 

Parallel Jigs 

These jigs are useful for scoring (creasing, not cutting) 
off-center folds such as hinges for photo albums, turn-ins for 
paper cases, as well as for scoring leather on 1 /4 case covers 
to indicate placement of side covering material. 

1) For general scoring: Make the jig board length longer 
than object to be scored for ease in running a bonefolder tip 
along a metal ruler. Cut a 5/8" strip of board equal to jig 
length to make a "stop" for the object. Adhere strip to edge of 
the jig baseboard. Draw a pencil line parallel to the 5/8" stop 

strip, to the distance of the width of score desired. Make two 
secondary stops by laminating 5/8" square pieces of board. 
Attach these to the jig board edges, just inside the drawn 
parallel line. Protect the jig by neatly placing clear tape along 
the area where the scoring will occur. Note: If the score is 
smaller than 5/8 inch, cut the secondary stops to the width of 
the score such as 3/16 inch and place it up to the edge of the 
main stop strip. 

Most right-handed binders orient the jig with the long, 
main stop to the right so the left hand can hold the ruler over 
the object (jig can be flipped around if left handed). To use, 
position object against stop and place metal ruler over the 
object, against the outer stops. Score along ruler with a point 
of the bonefolder. Afterwards, lift scored area underneath 
with folder and work against the ruler. 

For paper cases or dust jackets, repeat the above steps but 
move outer stops further left to the width of the cover. If the 
case paper is cut accurately with the spine width considered, 
it is possible to score on side and then flip it around and score 
the other side. The spine is created by the space between the 

2) Scoring 1/4 leather case: Make the jig base length one 
inch longer than the book case board to make the jig easier 
to work with. The width of the jig base is critical and should 
be cut to the same width of the case board. Then cut a board 
strip to the length of the jig base length, but to the same 
width of the amount of leather desired on the case cover such 
as one inch. Adhere the strip to the base edge to create a stop. 

A parallel jig was used to score the leather before applying 
decorative paper to the case. If paper is placed carefully, the 
score line can look like it was blind tooled. 

To use, place the jig face down and butt the stop against 
assembled leather case fore-edge (covered on spine only, 


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The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 


boards still uncovered) . It should overlap the leather by 
at least 1/16 inch at the opposite edge. Score the leather 
to desired depth with a bonefolder. Excess leather can be 
beveled off with a knife at the scored edge, allowing the side 
covering to butt against the scored line. The remaining scored 
edge leaves a dark line that looks blind tooled. 

Right Angle Jig 

This all-purpose jig is useful for different set ups, especially 
if combined with secondary jigs for specific jobs. It can assist 
in the alignment of separate objects for off center tipping by 
simply marking position on the jig. 

Craig Jensen s right angle jig set up using shop tools secured 
to a cutting mat. A similar set up can be made with binders' 

To use for tipping photos or plates on flat sheets, cut a 
secondary right angle jig of card stock to the margin widths 
required for positioning of plate or label. Place the sheet into 
original right angle jig and then apply the second jig over it. 
Set tipped plate against the secondary jig. The secondary jig 
can be covered with clear tape to keep edge clean. 

Three-sided Jig 

One of the most popular at workshops, this jig is designed 
for attaching side covering material on a 1/4 case binding 
where the side material is to overlap the spine material. It 
is not necessary to trim spine material when using this jig 
because, if made properly, the jig will insure even placement 
of the side covering material. 

Cut jig base larger than the book case board to allow for 
stops on three sides and an area to secure the jig to bench 
when in use. Draw a parallel pencil line at least one inch from 
bottom edge of the board for placement of the first stop, a 
small 5/8" strip of board. Set fore-edge of assembled case 
(cloth on spine, sides not covered) against this stop, and then 
comfortably attach 5/8 side strips (stops) against the head and 
tail of case board with adhesive or double- stick tape. Cutting 
the stop strips equal to turn-in widths (5/8") will help with 
consistent placement of side material for uniform turn-ins. 

Make two double laminated 5/8" square stops. Draw a 
parallel line from bottom stop edge to the designated position 
where cover material should overlap case cloth. Attach stops 
above line on each side, slightly outside the case sides. Once 
the uncovered case is positioned in the jig, the glued side 

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The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 

material is butted against these back stops and rubbed down 
along the spine overlap. Remove the case from the jig, turn 
over, cut corners and finish turn-ins. Place the case back in 
the jig to cover the other side. 

Corner Jigs 

These jigs are used to attach corner material in the correct 
position for 1/2 case binding. They can also be used for 
scoring leather corners to indicate trim edge on front cover. 
Cut a squared board to a 45 -degree triangle, equal to the size 
of cloth or leather corners, including the turn-ins. Two stops 
are cut to the turn-in width and glued at right angle edge of 
corner piece, then trim flush at angled edge. 

To attach cloth or leather corners to the case board, place 
the corner jig underneath the case with stops face up. The 
glued covering material can be lined up to the square of 
the jig. Remove jig, cut corners and turn in material. It is 
not necessary to trim out these corners once on the board 
unless a beveled edge on leather is desired. Otherwise, an 
overlapped edge is created when the side material is applied. 
Another jig could also be made of litho tin with stops attached 
with double -stick tape for direct trimming of covered corner 
(see litho tins) . 

Punching Jig 

This jig made from a cardboard box is inexpensive to 
construct while time saving when there are many sections 
to be sewn for a book edition. It is made in two parts: the 
box for sections and the handle jig with needles attached for 

Find a box in proportion to sections to be punched. Cut a 
"V" shape (no wider than an 80 degree angle) on two opposite 
sides of the box. Cut a separate sheet of cardboard larger than 
an open text section. The board should extend beyond the box 
edge for easy attachment with paper tape (preferred though 
harder to find these days) . Lightly score and fold in half, then 
place it into the "V" cuts. The scored center can be reinforced 
with paper tape and then punched with an awl (if necessary) 
to correspond with punching holes on hand jig. Place stops at 
one end of box to line sections up consistently. 

The hand jig for punching is made of laminated board 
for strength, with the last laminate being shorter in width 
to act as a stop for the needles. An extending board strip 
or stop is applied at one end to align the hand jig with the 
box edge. Metal pieces can be set behind the needles for 
reinforcement. Score a slight recess where needles are to be 
positioned, making sure needles extend out only about 5/16" 
for strength. 

To use, set the open section in the box groove with its head 
against the stop. Punch with the hand jig, with its long stop 
secured against the edge of the box "V" fold. Note: The first 

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The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 

kettle hole (needle) on the hand jig should be placed from 
the long stop edge to the desired distance to be punched in 
the text fold, PLUS the width of the stops on the box edge 
in order to end up in the correct spot. Think about this when 
making setting needles in the hand jig. 

Tins for Jigs or Templates 

Litho tins are great for making jigs that require trimming or 
templates for trimming out shapes. Pick up used tins at most 
3 2 commercial print shops that still do offset printing. They are 
usually oversized, but can easily be cut down on a board shear 
or by scoring with a utility knife against a metal ruler. 

It is only necessary to score the metal and then bend it until 
it breaks apart. For detailed cuts, use needle-nose pliers to 
work the scored area until it snaps off. Beware of the sharp 
edges; the tins can cut when freshly trimmed. Sand or file the 
edge while using a facemask to prevent breathing in any metal 

Most important, the jig speeds up production. Whether you 
are an individual working on small editions or you work in 
a large production shop, the jig can be an essential tool for 
edition bookbinding 

Marbled papers on books shown are by Pam Smith 
of Marble smith Papers. 

Priscilla Spitler has operated Hands On Bookbinding in 
Texas since 1995, following eight years of edition binding 
with Craig Jensen, first at his Jensen Bindery and later 
BookLab, Inc. After 20 years in Texas, this summer of 
2007, Priscilla plans to move her bindery to the city of 
Truth or Consequences, in southern New Mexico. She is 
online at <http:/ /priscilla.> and can be 
reached at <> . 

Trimming out template for case fills (good for leather 
cases) . Cut a piece of tin as a guide for trimming uneven case 
turn-ins. This eliminates the traditional use of marking up 
with dividers. Line the tin up to the inside case board at the 
spine edge. Secure with a lightweight. If the case is set on a 
board while trimming, it is possible to spin the case around as 
the turn-ins is trimmed around the tin. Remove excess turn- 
ins and drop in fills cut slightly smaller than the template size. 

These are just a few examples of possible jigs that can be 
constructed to assist in the production of book editions. 
Making the right jig can be a challenge for the edition 
binder to provide a creative solution to a specific problem, 
particularly when working with unusual materials or other 
constraints caused bv a particular binding structure or design. 

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The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 

Beautiful Books Digitally 

By Jamie Runnells 

Digitally produced books don't seem to be taken as 
seriously as books produced by traditional techniques. While 
there are as many reasons for this bias as there are book 
artists, one clear reason is that digitally produced work often 
results in poor image /type quality (unintentional bitmapping, 
pixilation, line or moire patterns, and jaggies. 

The first image shows a print with jaggies, which are jagged 
edges on type or vector images. With jaggies, your artwork 
or type looks fine on screen but prints jaggy. The likely 
cause is that your printer does not have a postscript driver. 
You can download postscript software from your printer's 
manufacturer, usually for free. The second image shows 
the same print without jaggies, the file is the same but was 
printed on a different printer. 

The result of technically flawed digital work is that the 
content and binding of the piece are overshadowed and the 
viewer focuses only on its poor craftsmanship. Certainly not 
all digitally created books are poorly crafted, but those pieces 
that are don't add credibility to the medium. This article 
delineates some common technical flaws in digitally created/ 
printed books and offers some remedies. 



When working with scanned images -- either photos, 
artwork, textures -- there are some basics to keep in mind to 
et the best results. 

Resolution (dpi— dots per inch): 

Keeping the end use in mind will help determine the best 
resolution for your image. The following questions will 
help provide some guidelines when determining the best 
resolution for your scan: 

First, what will be the images' final size? If you are 
increasing the image you will have to scan at a higher 
resolution. Second, is the image line art or grayscale/ color? 
Line art needs a higher resolution than grayscale or color 
artwork. Finally, what kind of paper will it be printed on? 
Coated paper needs a higher resolution image, while an 
uncoated paper will tolerate and actually works best with a 
lower resolution image. 


These images show the same image scanned at 240 and 800 
dpi respectively. There is no noticeable difference in the print 

Volume 3, Number 2, Spring 2007 

The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 


Generally, if you are not enlarging artwork, 300 dpi is fine 
for grayscale or color images. Remember that the higher the 
resolution of an image, the bigger the file, and a large file can 
slow down the computer and printer unnecessarily. Scan at a 
higher resolution in case you decide later to enlarge the image 
size. The resolution can always be scaled down, but it cannot 
be increased without making the image smaller or loosing 
image quality. Line art should always be scanned at a higher 
resolution (600-1000 dpi) to keep it crisp. 


The first image shows a line art image that was scanned at 240 
dpi and the second image shows the same image scanned at 
800 dpi. 

There are several ways to calculate the necessary settings 
for enlarging an original image for output. You can use a 
proportion wheel, your stellar math skills, or a free software 
program called Scancalc, <http:/ /www.stonetablesoftware. 
com/ scancalc>, to determine the percentage of increase in 
size from your original image size to your desired image size. 
If the final enlarged image's resolution is to be 300 dpi then 
multiply 300 (dpi) by the percentage of increase to determine 

the resolution needed for your initial scan. For example, if 
the original image is 1 x 1 at 300 dpi and the final image is to 
be 2 x 2 at 300 dpi, then scan the lxl image at a minimum 
of 600 dpi to keep the image from appearing pixilated after 
enlargement. After scanning the image can be resized in 
Photoshop to be 2 x 2 (larger size) and 300 dpi (fewer pixels). 
You are essentially trading size for resolution. 

Input from Digital Cameras 

For best results the camera should be set to the highest 
quality image option available from your camera. Just like 
scanning, you want to end up with an image around 300 dpi. 
Many digital cameras shoot images files at 72 dpi but the 
images are extremely large in size. In this case, you can reduce 
size while increasing dpi (refer to the formula above). 


Don't use page layout programs to resize your 
images. Use Photoshop to get the image size and 
cropping before working with Quark, InDesign or 
Illustrator. It is very easy to distort images when 
rescaling. It also slows down these programs when 

When working with color images, convert them 
to the CMYK color mode in Photoshop since inkjet 
prints CMYK not RGB . 

Volume 3, Number 2, Spring 2007 

The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 

Remember that printers create images using a 
series of tiny dots. To produce a light color or a tint 
of a color for a large solid- color area, the printer has 
to space the dots out and they are more noticeable 
than a medium or dark value color. However, 
the bleed that uncoated paper has can sometimes 
eliminate the dot effect. 


Using an Inkjet Printer 

(I use an Epson 1280 and Epson 2200) Choose the right 
print setting for your paper -- you may have to experiment. 
Most inkjet printers list commercial inkjet paper as a media 
option, so select the correct paper type and the adjustments 
are made for you. Using uncoated/ non-inkjet papers will 
probably require multiple runs at different paper type/ quality 
settings to determine the best results 

Coated vs. Uncoated 

Coated papers are easy to use. They print color fairly 
accurately and can hold a crisp image and small detailed type. 
They come in a variety of textures and finishes. There are a 
few problems with using coated papers in book arts: coated 
paper is more likely to "crack" along fold lines [Runnells- 
Image9.tif]; many styles of coated papers have the company's 
name on the back side of the sheet, or are only printable 
on one side, and there aren't many color options (white vs. 
bright white) . 

Tips for using coated papers 

Always choose the right paper option in your 
printer output options window. If you are using a 
paper that your printer doesn 't list in its print dialog 
window, follow the instruction sheet that came with 
the paper. It will generally give a list of comparable 

Uncoated paper is fun. You can experiment with color and 
texture, which is great for book arts. However, uncoated 
papers will bleed slightly and dull the colors a bit. This can 
be a desirable effect or you can plan around it and choose 
brighter colors and choose different images or type. 

Tips for using uncoated paper: 

When using an uncoated paper, under the printer 
output options for "paper," select iC plain paper "but 
click the "quality" option rather than the "speed" 
option. This gives a bit more ink coverage than the 
"speed" option and should eliminate gaps or lines 

These following two images show the difference between the 
speed and quality options, respectively. 

This image shows the same image printed on the same 
piece of paper — the paper was run through the printer four 
times — for each image a different paper setting was chosen. 
Note the difference in colors and values for each print. 


Volume 3, Number 2, Spring 2007 

The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 


To compensate for the bleed that occurs in 
uncoated papers avoid condensed typefaces, 
typefaces with small counters, or type with small 
hairlines /details. Small type itself can be a problem 
as well (depending on the typeface and paper, you 
may not be able to go smaller than 8pt). Also avoid 
reversing type on a dark area especially if it is a small 
size or a thin typeface. 

This image shows small type that was printed on Canson Mi- 
Teintes — an uncoated paper. It is easy to see here how type 
printed on an uncoated paper loses its crisp, clean edges 

Preferred Papers 

Canson Mi-Teintes is my favorite. I've found that printing 
on the textured side, rather than the smooth, holds ink 
better/ there is less bleed. The paper comes in many colors 
as well. Rives BFK and Mowhawk Superfine are also nice 
all-purpose papers. Curious Touch is a really fun paper that 
feels like suede. Visit http:/ /www., or 
call 1-800-779-0872 for samples. Epson Matte Heavyweight 
(some sizes are only coated on one side) is another favorite 
of mine although some versions of this paper have the Epson 
logo on the back of each sheet. 

Most anything works - just experiment! Paper companies 
are more than happy to send you samples. I especially like 
French Paper Company <http:/ />, and 
Fox River Paper, <http:/ /> 

Digital Printing Resources 

Calumet Photographic: 800-225-8638, <http:/ /www.>. Archival inks and inkjet papers. 

Dharma Trading Company, <http : / / www. dharmatrading. 
com>. Coated inkjet fabric, product to coat fabric or other 
substrates for inkjet use, product information. 

Digital Art Supplies: 800-542-5227, <http://www.>. Archival inks, inkjet papers. 

Dolphin Papers, 800-346-2770. Good prices on fine art 
uncoated and inkjet papers. Large sheets must be cut or torn 
to size. $50 minimum order. 

Epson Online Store, <http:/ /www. 
Store /index .jsp?ref=haa>, <http:/ />. 
Paper, inks, printers, drivers, support, and product help 

Freestyle, 800 292-6137, <http:/ /www.freestylecamera. 
com>. Archival inks and coated inkjet papers. 

Inkjet Art Solutions, <http:/ />. 
Archival inks, inkjet papers, information and links to other 
resources. Affordable custom profiles 

Inkjet Mall, <http:/ />. Archival inks, 
inkjet papers, digital printing workshops, information and 
links to other resources 

Media Street, <http:/ />. Archival 
inks, inkjet papers, continuous ink flow systems 

Wilhelm Imaging Research, <http:/ /www.wilhelm->. Longevity test results on various ink/ paper 

Jamie Runnells is an Assistant Professor of Graphic 
Design at Mississippi State University. Her books 
have been shown in national and international juried 
exhibitions. Her freelance design work has been honored 
with numerous ADDY awards, and in PRINT magazine s 
2006 Regional Design Annual. She is online at <http:/ /> and <http://> , and can be reached via email 
at <jr2 1 6@ra . msstate. edu > . 

Volume 3, Number 2, Spring 2007 

The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 

One Book, Many Interpretations 
The Making of the Exhibition 

By Lesa Dowd 

In September 2005, shortly after starting as Special 
Collections Conservator for the Chicago Public Library, 
I found myself in a brainstorming session for upcoming 
exhibitions. A few years prior to my arrival at CPL, I had 
approached the Library about the possibility of a bookbinding 
exhibition corresponding to their acclaimed One Book, 
One Chicago (OBOC) program. Although at that time the 
possibility did not pan out, I now had the unique inside 
opportunity to present the exhibition idea again. This time it 
was the five-year anniversary of One Book, One Chicago. I 
brought samples of bookbinding and book art to give an idea 
of what we might expect as entries. Fortunately, everyone 
immediately agreed that a juried bookbinding exhibition with 
prizes was a great way to celebrate the program's anniversary. 
The hard part was about to begin! 

During the course of five years, Chicago Public Library had 
selected ten classic titles — one for each spring and fall. The 
program which was inaugurated with To Kill a Mockingbird 
by Harper Lee, included Nightby ElieWiesel, My Antonia 
by Willa Cather, A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, 
The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, The Coast of 
Chicago by Stuart Dybek, In the Time of the Butterflies by 
Julia Alvarez, The Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg 
Clark, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr 
Solzhenitsyn and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. 
We had hoped to have each title represented by multiple 

Volume 3, Number 2, Spring 2007 

books created by bookbinders and book artists. . .a tricky 
proposition. How do you make sure everyone doesn't bind To 
Kill a Mockingbird (for example)? 

Another special surprise came my way- the Fall 2006 
OBOC selection would be announced in the fall of the 
exhibition opening. The book's title (Interpreter of Maladies 
by Jhumpa Lahiri) had not yet been determined at this stage 
and additionally is kept top secret until its announcement 
by Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. I would be the lucky 
binder who would get to bind the unnamed selection- but 
I wouldn't know the title until just over a month before its 
announcement. Yikes! That's a very small amount of time to 
work on a fine binding 

The "Call for Entries" was our first communication with 
the future participants. It was important to design something 
catchy and inviting for the potential entrants. A system 
of ranking the books needed to be included so that books 
could be assigned based on the binders' preferences and 
how soon the "Intent to Enter" was received. The Chicago 
Public Library Foundation supported the exhibition from its 
inception and generously provided monetary prizes for the 
top binding for each title (ten in total), a full-color catalog 
and a gala reception in the Harold Washington Library 
Center's ninth-floor Winter Garden. 

Call for Entries 

The jurors, Paul Gehl, Audrey Niffenegger, and Norma 
Rubovits were selected for their expertise, differing 
viewpoints and their appreciation for bookbinding and the 
book as art. Norma is a well-known paper marbler and 
bookbinder, Audrey is a printmaker, book artist and best- 
selling author, and Paul is Custodian of the John M . Wing 
Foundation on the History of Printing at the Newberry 
Library. The jurors already knew one another and respected 
each other's viewpoints and opinions. 

As the due date for the exhibition neared, the entries 
started trickling, then rushing, in. It was very exciting for us 


The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 


to get the daily mail deliveries and open and document each 
entry. The jury date required a great deal of organization 
so that the jurors could focus on the work without other 
considerations. The books were laid out according to title 
with all evidence of binder identification removed. The jurors 
met early to go over general guidelines (the goal being a 
diverse show of well-crafted work). Each juror then worked 
the room independently to judge each piece submitted, 
completing the first round of judging before lunch. The jurors 
suggested that while they ate lunch, my colleagues and I 
tally their votes and remove all of the bindings that received 
unanimous "no" votes and set aside those bindings that 
received unanimous "yes" votes. Much to their surprise (and 
ours!) there were no pieces that received unanimous votes, 
positive or negative. This meant that the afternoon promised 
to be full of discussion among the jurors. Playing the silent 
role of recorder, I watched and listened as the more than 
eighty entries were eventually reduced to the forty- seven best 
entries for exhibition. 

One Book, One Chicago is an exciting program with many 
associated reading groups and events for each campaign. 
We included an historical component of the exhibition 
to complement the bookbindings in the show. For each 
selection, we included the juried bindings and ephemera 
that characterized each campaign. The ephemera included 
resource guides and promotional bookmarks, photographs of 
author visits, special readings by theater troupes in Chicago, 
and autographed memorabilia. 

The next challenge was to make the exhibition hall look 
as magical as the books that would be showcased within. 
Paint colors for walls and pedestals were selected (with 
complementary colors used in all OBMI publicity). A 3-D 
exhibit hall model was used to determine the number and 
layout of the pedestals. Quotes from readers who participated 
in the One Book, One Chicago discussion groups were 
lettered onto the walls. One Book, Many Interpretations is 
a celebration of One Book, One Chicago and the intention 
was to reflect not only what the books meant to the binders, 
but to the citizens of Chicago who participated in the 
reading groups. Text panels were created that introduced the 
exhibition visitor to the background of each OBOC selection 
and detailed a few of the special programs held in conjunction 
with each campaign. 

Views of Exhibition Hall 

Set-up of Jury Room before the arrival of Jurors 

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The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 

Concurrent to the exhibit hall preparation was the creation 
of the catalog. Each book was photographed upon its arrival 
at the Chicago Public Library. The photographs of the juried 
works were submitted to our graphic designer to layout 
the catalog. In addition to the photographs, the catalog was 
to include information from the text panels. The proofing 
process for the catalog, labels, and text panels went on 
for what, at times, seemed forever- causing some of my 
colleagues to affectionately dub the exhibition's title, One 
Book, Many Revisions. The objective was to have the catalog 
printed and ready for the opening night reception. Ultimately, 
we attained this goal! 

The exhibition was mounted two weeks prior to opening, 
which allowed for not only a sigh of relief but two weeks to 
fuss with the lighting, tweak the layout in the cases, and give 
special previews for staff members andVIPs.The opening 
reception in the Winter Garden was wondrous, with more 
than two hundred visitors in attendance! The exhibition hall 
was abuzz with conversation about the bindings in the show, 
meetings of old and new friends, and remembrances of 
reading the classic OBOC selections. The reception included 
a brief awards ceremony to honor the ten binders who won 
first place for each selection. Immediately after the awards, 
attendees rushed back into the exhibition hall to see and 
further discuss the bindings! 

Scenes from the Reception 

The show's opening did not signal the end of planning by 
any means. Since the night of the opening, I have had the 
opportunity to give numerous tours and to focus on related 
programming to support the exhibition, hoping to expose 
even more people to the world of bookbinding and the book 
arts. As the OBMI show nears its close on April 22, 2007, 1 
am thrilled that it has been extremely well-received — not 
only by the bookbinding community, but by the general public 
as well. At this point of reflection, I can share a few lessons I 
learned as well as some interesting statistics: 

Lessons Learned (and Reiterated) 

1 . I learned that the most successful exhibition marries the 
oals of the exhibition to the goals of the institution. 

2 . There is no substitute for solid organization and planning. 
Creating a timeline at the outset is critical and, if followed, 
will result in a successful exhibition. 

3 . Encouragement and frequent communication with entrants 
can increase the percentage participation from 60 % (average 
participation based on survey of other open- call exhibition 
curators) to over 80%, as we were fortunate enough to 

4. Always, always, always say "Thank you!" 

5 . Related programming plays a critical role and provides 
exciting opportunities to awaken the general public's 
appreciation of the wonders of bookbinding and the book 

Some Interesting Exhibition Statistics 

1 . The highest ranked selection (first choice) among "Intents 
to Enter" was In the Time of the Butterflies. 

2 . The lowest ranked selection (last choice) among "Intents to 
Enter" was Pride and Prejudice. 

3. Titles receiving the most submitted entries: To Kill a 
Mockingbird, My Antonia, and In the Time of the Butterflies. 

4. Thirty percent of the binders in the show were from the 
Chicago area. 

5 . Juried selections represented twenty-three states and the 

6 . Although binding interpretations varied from traditional 
fine binding to artist books, more than 75 % of the bindings 
in the show represented traditional binding. 


Volume 3, Number 2, Spring 2007 

The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 


Free Public Programs Associated with the One 
Book, Many Interpretations exhibition 

Bookbinding for Kids class: "Pop-Up Books" 
A book appraisal program 

Books on Film Series: book-related and bookbinding-related 

Two Conservation Lab Tours 
Fore-edge Painting Lecture with Martin Frost 
Bookbinding for Kids Class: "Flag Books" 

Ruth Lednicer, Director of Marketin 

Exhibition Dates 

The dates for the One Book, Many Interpretations 
exhibition are September 29, 2006- April 22, 2007. The 
bindings in the exhibition can be viewed from the online web 
catalog: <http: / / 003cpl/ oboe/ obmi/ 


A number of people are responsible for making OBMI 
possible. They include: 

Exhibit Team: 

Lesa Dowd, Conservator, Special Collections and 
Preservation Division 

Constance J. Gordon, Librarian II, Special Collections and 
Preservation Division 

Elizabeth Holland, Museum Specialist, Special Collections and 
Preservation Division 

Glenn Humphreys, Librarian IV, Special Collections and 
Preservation Division 

Craig Klein, Exhibit Preparator, Special Collections and 
Preservation Division 

Kathryn R. J.Tutkus, Graphic Designer III, Department of 

Assistance and Support 

Mary A. Dempsey, Commissioner, Chicago Public Library 

Greta Bever, Assistant Commissioner, Central Library 

Amy Eshleman, Assistant Commissioner, Strategic Planning 
and Partnerships 

Margaret Killackey, Press Secretary, Chicago Public Library 

Phil Moloitis, Public Relations Representative II, Department 
of Marketing 

Lorna Donley, Archival Specialist, Special Collections and 
Preservation Division 

Lorraine Reed, Clerk IV, Special Collections and Preservation 

Kimberly Stovall, Clerk II, Special Collections and 
Preservation Division 

Morag Walsh, Senior Archival Specialist, Special Collections 
and Preservation Division 

Sarah Welshman, Librarian I, Special Collections and 
Preservation Division 

Wallace Wilson, Library Page, Special Collections and 
Preservation Division 

Teresa Yoder, Archival Specialist, Special Collections and 
Preservation Division 

The opening reception, catalog production and binding 
prizes for One Book, Many Interpretations were generously 
funded by the Chicago Public Library Foundation.] 

Lesa Dowd is the Conservator of the Special 
Collections and Preservation Division of the Chicago 
Public Library and curator of the recent One Book, 
Many Interpretations Exhibition. She taught chemistry 
for nearly ten years before beginning her career in 
conservation at Northwestern University Library in 
Evanston. Lesa has studied both English and French- 
style fine bookbinding. Outside of her daily job of 
conservation, she practices the art of fine binding 
and actively participates in bookbinding exhibitions. 
Lesa is the recent past president of the Chicago Hand 
Bookbinders and is active in the Guild of Book Workers, 
currently serving as the Midwest Chapter's Program 
Chair. She can be reached at <> . 

Do you have an exhibition review you would 
ike to share? If so, please contact the editors at 

Volume 3, Number 2, Spring 2007 

The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 

A Review of the Guild of Book Workers 
100th Anniversary Exhibition and 
Exhibition Catalog 

By Craig Jensen 

The Guild of Book Workers was founded in 1906 and so 
with this exhibition and catalog the Guild celebrates its 1 00 th 
anniversary. The exhibition opened on September 20, 2006 
at the Grolier Club of New York and coincided with the 2006 
Standards of Excellence Centennial Celebration also held in 
New York City. The exhibition is broken into two sections, 
the Retrospective Member's Exhibition curated by Peter 
Verheyen, Exhibitions Chair for the Guild of Book Workers 
and the Member's Exhibition juried by Karen Hanmer, 
Richard Minsky and Don Rash. The catalog includes remarks 
by outgoing Guild President Betsy Palmer Eldridge, an 
introduction by Exhibitions Chair Peter Verheyen, statements 
by the three jurors, complete descriptions and color pictures 
of all items in both the retrospective and juried exhibitions, 
and brief biographies of all the exhibitors. The catalog was 
designed by Julie Leonard and Sara Sauers of Iowa City, IA. 

Retrospective Member's Exhibition 

The earliest pieces in the Retrospective Member's 
Exhibition are the binding on Henri Francois Joseph 
Regnier's, Les Reconcontres de Monsieur de Breot, 1919, 
by Belle McMur try Young, a charter member of the Guild 
of Book Workers, and Peter Franck's binding of the undated 
Le Mystere Laic, by Jean Cocteau. Both books inspire a 
reverence and awe. They are dated, even antique, yet they 
also seem to still be alive and vital as if they are harbingers of 
the modern bookmaking era. Standing in contrast is the most 
recent work in the retrospective, Tim Ely's Coil, which seems 
to point us somewhere deep into the future. In between there 
is a generous sampling of bindings many of which stand as 
archetypes to the current generation of book workers. 

As I viewed the exhibition at the Grolier Club and, later 
upon closer study, the catalog, I was amazed to discover how 
many of the books in the Retrospective Member's Exhibit I 
have actually been fortunate enough to handle and study up 
close. I was also surprised at how many of the books have had 
a powerful and formative effect upon my career. I watched my 
mentor, Don Etherington, work through the entire process 
from conceptual design to execution of his design binding for 
the 1936 first edition Ulysses by James Joyce when I was a 
book conservator at The University of Texas, Harry Ransom 
Center. That book and Don's process seem to have trapped me 
somewhere between a desire to be a design binder and a fear 
of becoming one. David Bourbeau's edition binding of Edgar 
Alan Poe's The Raven illustrated by Alan James Robinson was 
the first book that made me think that I'd like to be a limited 
edition binder rather than a book conservator, which in 1984 
became the case. I have always been drawn to the work of 
binders who use typographic elements to affect their designs 
and the Deborah Evetts binding of Eric Gill's The Four 
Gospels stands a monument to this noble style. 

Peter Franck's Le Mystere Laic 

Jan Sobota's Kde Bydli Cas (Where Time Lives) 

Other books in the retrospective exhibition brought 
some questions to mind. How many binders have left the 
boundaries of the square or rectangle behind after viewing 
Don Glaister's binding of Utah Reader hy Mark Beard, 
published by Vincent FitzGerald or Jan Sobota's sculptural 
binding of Kde Bydli Cas ( Where Time Lives)? And how 
many artists' bookmakers have been influenced by Hedi 
Kyle's "Flag Book", never again to see the book as a set of 
sequential pages? There are no doubt countless modern 
binders who have seen the historical models of Gary Frost and 
Pamela Spitzmeuller as not just learning tools but pathways 
to modern creative bookmaking. Priscilla Spitler's marriage 
of traditional English style fine binding and her creative and 
innovative decoration techniques as demonstrated in her, By 
Air, as well as her ongoing dedication to teaching the craft 


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The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 


is having far reaching effects on the future of fine binding. 
And doesn't it seem odd, 31 years after the fact, as fine 
binder, rabble rouser and jack- of- all trades Richard Minsky 
points out in his juror's statement, that his pheasant feather 
bedecked binding of Jacob H. Studer's The Birds of North 
America should have caused so much controversy resulting in 
the binding being withdrawn and later reinstated in the 1 975 
Guild exhibition at Yale only now to seem so conservative and 
even traditional? Since 1 975 I daresay that countless "non- 
traditional" materials have been introduced into books and 
their bindings. 

Some Anecdotal Observations 

Within the two exhibition sections several interesting 
tidbits caught my eye and fancy. There are two husband 
and wife exhibitors in both the retrospective and juried 
exhibitions: Don Etherington and Monique Lallier and Don 
Glaister and Susanne Moore. There is a father and son both 
represented in the juried exhibition: James Brockman and 
Stuart Brockman. I personally haven't ever seen a modern fine 
binding done in the Islamic Codex style and there are two in 
the juried section: L'Atlantide, by Pierre Benoit, 2002 bound 
by Richard Baker and Narrative oflmans Discourse with 
Students on Religious Subjects, Anonymous, Ca. 1789 bound 
by Signa Houghteling. There are two chained bindings in the 
juried section: Karen Jutzi's Reliquiae and Jarmila Jelena 
Sobotova's binding of The Hound of Baskervilles, by A. Conan 
Doyle, 1902. 

Melinda Padgett's Death Comes for the Archbishop 

Juried Member's Exhibition 

First off, commiserations to jurors Don Rash, Richard 
Minsky and Karen Hanmer who had the daunting task of 
selecting sixty pieces for inclusion in the 100 th Anniversary 
Exhibition from 171 submissions. As juror for the Guild's In 
Flight exhibition in 2003 I know how difficult this can be. 
Among a large group of submissions there are the obvious 
pieces that all jurors agree should be in the show but as the 

number of selections for inclusion gets closer to the limit 
the jurors know they must reject pieces that could easily be 
included if there was more room or if there had been fewer 

Second and most important, kudos to the membership of 
the Guild — 171 submissions is a tribute to the strength of 
the Guild and state of the art and craft of bookmaking in the 
early years of the 2 1 st century and the beginning of the second 
century of the Guild of Book Workers. (A note to Guild 
members whose submissions were not included in the show, 
don't be discouraged, your time will come.) 

The work in the juried section shows the Guild of today 
to be rich with tradition and rife with experimental and new 
ideas. Look at the bindings of James and Stuart Brockman, 
Don Etherington, Monique Lallier, Gabrielle Fox and Maria 
Sol Rebora and it is clear that the modern fine binding is alive 
and well. I was specially taken by Melinda Padgett's design 
binding for Death Comes for the Archbishop, by Willa Cather. 
Her strong powerful presentation, incorporating elements of 
Southwestern American Indian design adapted from Acoma 
pottery on the front and back boards effectively overpowers 
the bible-like spine visually representing the futility of the 
books characters attempt to impose their beliefs on a different 
but rich and deeply spiritual culture. 

Guild members continue to mine historical binding 
structure and cover design for ideas, understanding and 
inspiration as evidenced by Anna Embree's Byzantine Binding 
Model, and Chela Metzger's Bird Book. Madelyn Garrett's 
embroidered binding on The Art of the Book, The Studio, 
Ltd., 1914, is a tour-de-force of patience and dexterity and 
a wonderfully modern joining of historic panel design and 
embroidered covering. Pamela Spitzmeuller, as usual, marries 
whimsy with thoughtful meditation on historical structure, 
techniques and methodology. Pamela's Signed, Sealed and 
Delivered, takes binders' long established reputation for 
parsimony by putting every scrap of material to good use to 
new heights. 

Pamela Spitzmueller's Signed, Sealed and Delivered 

Volume 3, Number 2, Spring 2007 

The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 

Don Glaister's Brooklyn Bridge: A Love Song 

What happens when a design binder and book conservator, 
after spending a good portion of their careers working on 
commission and providing services to others, decides to make 
their own art? Look at Don Glaister's Brooklyn Bridge: A 
Love Song, 2002. Brooklyn Bridge is a quarter leather book 
with pages made of "sanded aluminum with acrylic paint, 
wire, aluminum tape, laminated polyester film and sand ."The 
text of the book, a poem, by Don, is screen printed onto the 
pages and there are nine studies of the bridge also painted 
onto the pages by Don. The edition of 60 copies is already out 
of print and the book is now selling on the used market for 
many thousands of dollars more than the publication price. 
Next look at Laura Wait's X, letter of danger, sex and the 
unknown, Vol. 1, 2006. The pages of Laura's X are "created 
using layers of collographs printed in Akua Color, paste 
painting with stencils, and handwriting using a ruling pen and 
traditional pointed pen ."The binding is brown leather with 
gold and color tooling. Both of these artists' bookmakers 
display unique artistic vision as well as masterful craft ability 
and execution. 

Guild book workers are also not afraid to take on difficult 
issues. Melissa Jay Craig with her Manifest, O, "presents the 

experience of losing one's hearing in visual terms. The pages 
are handmade of semi-translucent abaca; 'printed' as the 
sheets were formed, with holes in place of letterforms; the 
words have all dropped from the pages." Melissa's description, 
more than most of the books in the show, made me want to 
pick her book up and touch and turn the pages. I also wanted 
to pickup and read Ashlee Weitlauf 's T is for Torture that deals 
with a subject certainly no one wants to think about but still 
haunts us all. Fortunately it can be viewed online at <http:/ />. 

Yes, but is it a book? The more we ask that question, the 
more Guild members seem willing to push the boundaries of 
our traditional understanding and whether we are delighted 
or annoyed, they make us think. Peggy Johnston seems to be 
channeling Tim Ely with her Star ship Log and Pod, but she 
left all the traditional materials behind making her Coptic 
bound book out of heat warped polyester and sewing it 
together with fishing line. But forget the extraterrestrials, 
Claire Jeanine Satin attributes her conceptual approach to her 
association with John Cage (a terrestrial with lots of extra 
qualities) in her Pentiment: Seno Book For Joseph and Amelia 
Satin (Gregg "M"), made with acetate, metallic overprinting, 
monofilament thread and glass beads. And pushing hardest 
of all on the boundaries may beTennille Shuster's Crown of 
Thorns, 2005 , "pages . . . roughly trimmed and bound in piano 
hinge format, using acrylic stained dowel rods. A crown of 
thorns was attached with hemp cord and the structure is then 
displayed on an antique wig stand." 


Tennille Shuster's Crown of Thorns 

Ashlee Weitlauf s T is for Torture 

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The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 


I could go on but in the interest of time and space I will 
stop here. The Guild of Book Workers 100 th Anniversary 
Exhibition is a triumph. It documents a legacy of love for 
the book, aspiration to high art and craft and a desire to 
perpetuate one of the great inventions of humanity, the book. 

As of this writing the bound exhibition catalog is sold out 
but there may still be copies available through book dealers 
or binding suppliers. Unbound copies of the exhibition 
catalog are available from the Guild of Book Workers website. 
<http: / / gbw/ gallery/ 
1 OOanniversary / catalog/ index. shtml> . 

Remainder of Exhibition Schedule 

The Juried Member's Exhibition is still scheduled to travel 
to the following sites: 

Branford P. Millar Library, Portland State University 
Portland, Oregon 
April 9-May 20, 2007 

The Bridwell Library, Southern Methodist University 
Dallas, Texas 

June 18-September 14, 2007 

Dartmouth College Library 
Hanover, New Hampshire 
October 8-November 30, 2007 

The complete Retropective and Juried Member's 
Exhibtions can be viewed online at <http:/ / palimpsest. gbw/ gallery/ 1 OOanniversary/ index. 

Craig Jensen began his career as a library conservator, 
interning at the Library of Congress, Restoration Office, 
under Peter Waters, Don Etherington and Tom Albro. 
He was a book conservator at Brigham Young University 
in Utah and at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research 
Center, at The University of Texas at Austin. In 1984, 
he founded Jensen Bindery He was a founding partner 
and president BookLab, Inc. from 1988-98. He now 
operates BookLab II in San Marcos TX with business 
partner, Gary McLerran. He can be reached on the Web 
at <http:/ / > and via email at 
<craig@bookways. com>. 

Volume 3, Number 2, Spring 2007 

The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 

No Longer Innocent: 

Book Art In America, 1 960-1 980. 

A review by Melissa Jay Craig 

Longer | 
Innocent: Book Art in America 



Betty Bright 

"in tiie 1970s, book art leapt to life in America. 
Terms were argued over. Organizations were started. 
Book structures were rediscovered or revised. And 
printing technologies were stretched to produce 
unrecognizable effects. Possibilities expanded in 
that period regarding who could make a book, how 
a book's contents could disport across a page, and 
how a book's materials and form could welcome 
or repulse a reader. The potential for expression 
seemed unlimited." 
- Betty Bright 

I began to make book art just a few years after the time 
period addressed in Betty Bright's erudite No Longer 
Innocent: Book Art In America, 1960-1980. I inherited the 
expansive view of the previous decade that she describes so 
well; I saw the book arts as being tremendously exhilarating, 
limitless and vast. As I became aware of the dissonance 
surrounding the field, from the transgressed-upon outrage 
of many very fine bookbinders to the multiple strident 
claims of exclusive domain, my enthusiasm dimmed. I slid 
into a love-hate relationship with book art, from which I've 
never quite emerged. However, during my 17 years as a 
teacher, I've tried to pass to my students that original sense 
of breathless possibility, by striving to present an unbiased, 
inclusive view. This has required the distribution of mountains 
of photocopied writings each semester; there has never been 

a single book that I've felt able to use as a comprehensive 
reference, though a few have come close. Betty Bright has 
written the first. 

In her introduction, Bright states that, "I am able to let the 
differences as much as the likenesses inform and illuminate 
the story of the book's continuing appeal to artists". 

This she does, and admirably. She also seeks to address a 
very important aspect of the field, an "amnesia" which "has 
produced an increasing number of artists' books. . .whose 
content or strategies were long ago exhausted." Her wide- 
ranging history succeeds in this goal as well, and it is another 
reason her book is invaluable. 

Working chronologically, with concise, informative, and 
highly readable prose, she tracks the progress and lineage 
of fine press books, deluxe books, multiple bookworks, 
and sculptural bookworks, including altered books and 
performance and installation bookworks. Her coverage is 
not limited to the two decades or the continent that the title 
suggests; she begins with the Kelmscott Chaucer, William 
Blake, Aubrey Beardsley, the Russian Constructivists, and of 
course, Duchamp. Periodically, European and British books 
make appearances. But Betty Bright doesn't simply focus on 
descriptions of the books and their underlying conceptual 
framework; she situates their history by examining all the 
attendant circumstances surrounding their development: 
the adoption and availability of printing methods including 
photocopiers and photo-based processes; she looks at artists 
as publishers, at influential exhibitions, publications, and 
conferences, and at the development of book arts centers 
and distributors, and she covers collectors, both public and 
private. She even takes a concurrent and informative look at 
what was happening in the mainstream publishing trade. It's a 
comprehensive, meticulously researched history, not only in 
the context of taking an inclusive view of what was produced, 
but of how it was produced and through what means, and of 
how and where the book works met their readers. 

And, from Marinetti's challenge to Mallarme in 1913 to 
several views still hotly debated, she also notes the ensuing 
flurries of reviews, criticism, dialogue and territorial claims; 
many written by preeminent critics and curators, but just as 
often, by artists actively involved in the field. 

While Bright aptly shows us the significance of the 
attendant discourse, she allows the writers to expound on 
their theories and reveal their positioning agendas in their 
own words, and then gently brings us back to the authenticity 
of the times. Of one particularly voluble critic, she writes, 
"From today's perspective, Clive Philpott's inexhaustible 
proselytizing achieves its own heroic stature. It would be 


Volume 3, Number 2, Spring 2007 

The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 


incorrect, however, to characterize the period as viewed 
through his aesthetic, which so resolutely separated different 
kinds of artists' books. As has been noted, exhibitions at 
Center for Book Arts and other organizations displayed 
multiple bookworks alongside sculptural bookworks, fine 
press, and deluxe books." 

I have my own agenda in praising No Longer Innocent. It 
takes an involved historian and curator such as Betty Bright 
to remind us that this "zone" book artists inhabit is a single 
country, though it contains a wildly varied topography and 
distinctive zipcodes within its borders. Her book finally 
captures the wide range of approaches that, happening 
simultaneously, fueled the energetic explosion of the book 
arts in this country. 

In short, she shows us what actually happened. 

It is to be hoped that what Richard Minsky predicts for 
No Longer Innocent will come true: that it will become the 
standard reference work in the field, and that future histories 
of later periods will seek to follow Betty Bright 's long 
overdue example. 

I still firmly believe that the future of the field is contingent 
on its continued diversity. To paraphrase Betty Bright, the field 
is a "realistic if motley" entirety, and artists still produce work 
that is to be "paged through, circled around, and perhaps 
gaped at". Inheriting an awareness of a truthful, encompassing 
overview will help keep artists and students alike from being 
falsely educated away from their individual passions, and allow 
enthusiastic, informed explorations to continue on, well into 
the second century of artists' books; or even into their own 

Buy this book. 

Melissa Jay Craig, Chicago 

For more information on Melissa Jay Craig, read the 
article on her work in this issue of The Bonefolder. She 
can be reached at <> and 
online at <http:/ /> . . 

Advertise in the Bonefolder 

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Volume 3, Number 2, Spring 2007 

The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 

The 2007 Bonefolder Bind-O-Rama will be 
a set book exhibition featuring the eatalu^ 
to the Guild of Book Workers' 1 00th anni- 


vrrsary i i > 

; I libi I 


The catalog'* 1 10 pages depict I 20 works, 
58 in the retrospective and 62 in the juried 

exhibition. All are in color with full de- 
scriptions. Also included are binders' biog- 
raphies, making this a must have lor any 
binder or book artist's research collection. 

Entry deadline 
September 30, 2007 

The catalog is available in sheets from the Guild oF Book Workers for S 32 

that includes s/h in the US. 
For full details on entering and ordering go to 

< h t tp : / / w w w. ph il ob ibl on , co m / b i n d o r an i a( 1 7 > 



A Survey a' American Fine Binding 



This traveling exhibition features contemporary fine bindings by ten American binders. 
The group includes established masters as well as gifted emerging artists. Two works are 
presented by each binder; their binding in response to the set Book of Origins text, and an 
additional example of their work. 

Full Color Catalog Now Available 

The 32 page, full color catalog was designed by Julia Leonard, designer of the Guild of Book 
Workers 100th Anniversary Exhibition catalog. It depicts all 20 works, plus descriptions and 
biographical statements by each binder. 

Pre-payment of $15 plus $4 per 
order for priority mail postage is 
required. Make checks payable to 
Karen Hanmer. 

Send orders to: 
Karen Hanmer 
709 Rosedale Road 
Glenview, IL 60025 

Or via PayPal, payment to 

The entire exhibition and travel schedule is online at 

Volume 3, Number 2, Spring 2007 

The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 


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Detailed information will be available on our website this 
winter. To join our mailing list, please phone, email, or visit us 
on the web. We look forward to seeing you in July. 

8-14JULY2007 An Introduction to the Book Arts & Modern Publishing 
15-21 july 2007 Macy Chadwick, Suzanne Moore <& Donald Glaister 
22-28 july 2007 Barbara Tetenbaum, Leslie Cabarga & Laura Wait 

Wells Book Arts Summer Institute 170 Main Street, Aurora, New York 13026 office 315.364.3420 fax 315.364.3488 

Volume 3, Number 2, Spring 2007 

The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 


American Academy of 

PO Box 1590 
Telluride, CO 81435 

A Professional School for International Bookbinders 


2007 Course Offerings 


Book Conservation: 

Forwarding & Covering of Textblocks 

May 14 - 25 

Instructor Don Etherington 

Alternative Decorative Techniques 

May 28 -Junel 
Instructor Monique Lallier 

Advanced French Technique Binding 

June 4-15 

Instructor Monique Lallier 


Alternative Decorative Techniques 

September 17-21 
Instructor Monique Lallier 

Intermediate French Technique Binding 

September 24 - October 5 
Instructor Monique Lallier 

Book Conservation: 

Forwarding & Covering of Textblocks 

October 22 - November 2 
Instructor Don Etherington 


Volume 3, Number 2, Spring 2007 

The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist 








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Middleton, Bernard C. (1996). A History of English Craft 
Bookbinding, New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press. 

Etherington, Don and Matt Roberts (1982). 
Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: A 
dictionary of descriptive terminology. Washington, 
D.C.: Government Printing Office. <http:/ /palimpsest. don/ don. html > 

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Volume 3, Number 2, Spring 2007